WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is pushing his

administration's plans to create jobs, a crucial campaign issue for

Democrats as they look toward November's midterm elections.

Obama planned remarks Friday at a North Carolina company that

has hired new workers and expanded its operations with grants from

the economic stimulus program. Obama's team wants to marry

much-needed job creation with the politically sour stimulus. His

advisers hope that will help Democrats gain favor with voters after

a bruising, yearlong battle with Republicans over health care.

Before Obama leaves for Charlotte, the Labor Department was to

release March unemployment figures. White House officials hoped the

jobless rate would continue its recent slow slide downward.