WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's top economist called on Congress to extend a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits which he said would help maintain economic momentum.

"If Congress does follow the president's call to extend the payroll tax cut and to continue the extended unemployment benefits, that will help maintain this momentum (and) the economy will be stronger going forward," Krueger told Reuters Insider on Friday.

Data released earlier on Friday showed the U.S. unemployment rate dipped to 8.3 percent in January and the economy created new jobs at the fastest pace in nine months, in welcome news for Obama as he seeks re-election later this year.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by James Dalgleish)