New data showing the economy added 290,000 jobs in April is the strongest sign yet the labor market is healing, but the high unemployment rate is still cause for concern, a senior Obama administration official said on Friday.

While today's report clearly suggests that we are moving in the right direction, it also shows how much work remains to be done, said Christina Romer, head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

It will take many months of robust job growth to restore the labor market to genuine health. Further targeted actions to spur private sector job creation are critically needed to ensure a more rapid, widespread recovery, she said in a statement.

U.S. employment grew at the fastest pace in four years in April as private sector employers increased hiring, the Labor Department said, but the unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent as more people returned to the job market looking for jobs.

(Reporting by Ross Colvin and Patricia Zengerle)