White House chief economist Austan Goolsbee is stepping down and returning to teaching, he said Monday; a setback for President Barack Obama as he tries to breathe life into the economy.

Goolsbee, chairman of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, is scheduled for departure just in time to begin the upcoming academic year at the University of Chicago, where he is a professor of economics in the graduate school of business, the White House said.

He has helped steer out country out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and although there is still much work ahead, his insights and counsel have helped lead us toward an economy that is growing and creating millions of jobs, Obama said in a statement.

On Sunday, Goolsbee told CNN's State of the Union that long-term trends remain positive despite disappointing employment, manufacturing and housing price figures.

The announcement comes on the heels of a series of reports showing the U.S economy struggling to maintain durability after the housing bust, banking crisis and recession. It also follows a number of other high-level officals stepping down from the White House as the President looks towards the 2012 campaigns.

Earlier this year former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker stepped down as chairman of President Obama's outside economic advisory panel.

Volker followed another instrumental figure who left to return to academia just a few months prior. Lawrence Summers, stepped down from his role as President Obama's National Economic Council director and returned to Harvard University after the midterm elections last November.