President Barack Obama said Friday the US economy has "a long way to go" towards a strong recovery, after the government released weak jobs figures showing unemployment crept up to 9.2 percent.

Obama said the poor jobs report "confirms what most Americans already know," that the recovery from what he described as the "worst downturn in our lifetimes" is slow and painful, and that it was vital to get the economy on a sounder footing.

"Our economy as a whole just isn't producing nearly enough jobs for everybody who's looking," Obama said in brief comments at the White House.

"We still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do to give people the security and the opportunity they deserve," he added.

"We have added more than two million private sector jobs in the past 16 months, but the recession cost us more than eight million, and that means that we still have a big hole to fill."

The unemployment rate bumped up last month to 9.2 percent after the economy generated a paltry 18,000 jobs in June, in a serious sign of stalling growth in the world's largest economy.

The private sector, expected to power up the economic recovery, added just 57,000 positions -- compared to 241,000 in April.

Offsetting that was a loss of 39,000 government jobs as authorities in federal, state and local administrations slash payrolls to address budget deficits.

The department also revised downward by more than half its already-disappointing data for May -- only a net 25,000 jobs were generated.

Added together, the two months paint a picture of both extremely slow growth in the economy and a reticence by businesses, many of which have been piling up cash reserves, to expand their workforces.

"Over the past few months the economy has experienced some tough headwinds, from the natural disasters to spikes in gas prices to state and local budget cuts that have cost tens of thousands of cops and firefighters and teachers their jobs," Obama said.

"The problems in Greece and in Europe along with uncertainty over whether the debt limit here in the United States will be raised have also made businesses hesitant to invest more aggressively."