WASHINGTON (AFP) - Americans are flooding back into the job market as the economy slowly improves, the Labour Department said Friday, reporting a barn-busting 290,000 jobs were created in April. President Barack Obama hailed the figures as a very encouraging sign that the US economy is emerging from the doldrums of a recession that destroyed more than eight million jobs. While the new jobs figures beat all estimates, the number of Americans returning to the job search pushed the unemployment rate up to 9.9 percent, from 9.7 percent in March. At least 805,000 Americans entered the labor market in April, but employers still shell-shocked from the worst recession in a generation could not create enough jobs to keep pace. Obama said Americans were returning to the labor market because they were encouraged by better prospects. The economy has been growing for the better part of a year, he said claiming his administrations policies had helped fuel the recovery. But the sheer length of the recession may be pushing people back to work, according to Peter Morici, a University of Maryland business professor. Unemployment benefits are running out for some workers, pushing families harder into the jobs market, he said. The number of re-entrants to the labor force rose by 195,000, the Labor Dept said. With congressional elections later this year, Obama faces the mammoth political and economic task of putting Americans back to work. Polls show around 80 percent of Americans say unemployment will be important for how they vote in the November elections. In a sign of the scale of Obamas challenge, Fridays report showed the number of people unemployed for more than 27 weeks had reached 6.7 million, accounting for almost half of those out of work. Weve got a ways to go, but weve also come a very long way, said Obama. I give you my word that Im going to keep fighting every single day to create jobs and opportunities for people. And I wont rest until you, and millions of your neighbors caught up in these storms, are able to find a good job and reach a brighter day. Analysts said Fridays figures showed that brighter day was fast approaching. The jobless recovery is becoming a lot less jobless, said Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors. The one missing link in this recovery has been jobs and that void is beginning to be filled. The figures showed that jobs were created across the board, from manufacturing to the hospitality and services sectors. The manufacturing industry created 44,000 jobs, which Obama lauded as the best performance since 1998. Since December, factory employment has risen by 101,000, according to the Labor Department. For the second month in a row, employment levels were boosted by government hiring for the decennial census. Around 66,000 worked on the project in April.