ASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama got new figures Friday to buttress his argument that he's presiding over steady, if slow, economic growth. But the government's report that the overall rate of unemployment actually crept up to 8.3 percent allows Republican rival Mitt Romney to keep pressure on Obama to defend his record.
The new unemployment numbers showed that private employers added 163,000 jobs in July, the best pace of hiring in five months. The jobless rate rose, however, to 8.3 percent from 8.2. percent in June. And Romney jumped on it, calling the figures a "hammer blow" to middle-class families.
No U.S. president since World War II has faced re-election with unemployment over 8 percent.
Obama was expected to comment on the new jobs numbers later Friday morning at a White House event on middle class tax cuts. Romney was campaigning Friday in Nevada, the state with the nation's highest unemployment rate, before heading to fundraise in Idaho.
Romney released a statement shortly after the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced the new figures for July.
Romney says Americans deserve better than an unemployment rate that stays stubbornly stuck above 8 percent. He says Obama "doesn't have a plan" for boosting growth and said that his economic plan would create 1.2 million new jobs by the end of his first term.
The candidates sparred from afar on the economy Thursday. Romney, campaigning in Colorado, said his economic program would create 12 million jobs in the next four years. Obama told voters in Florida that his rival favors "trickle-down tax cut fairy dust" that has failed to fix the economy in the past.
Romney's plan for job growth included several broad ideas but few specifics. He said he would help small business owners, cut spending to reduce the deficit and cut taxes.
Obama sought this week to draw a contrast with Romney on taxes, saying the Republican's call for extending cuts for upper-income earners would mean higher tax bills for the middle class. The president's new television ad made the case with a highly personalized message: Romney has paid a lower proportion of his income in taxes than many people of lesser means.
Obama planned to hammer his tax message again on Friday by calling on Congress to extend tax cuts for families making less than $250,000 a year before those cuts expire at the end of the year. The president wants to end the tax cuts, first enacted under President George W. Bush, for families making more than $250,000.
While the overall race for the White House remains deadlocked, several polls show Romney with an advantage over Obama on economic issues. A USA Today/Gallup Poll conducted in late July found 50 percent of Americans said Romney is the candidate who would be better at job creation, with 44 percent siding with Obama.
Economists set modest expectations for Friday's jobs report. They expected the economy to have generated just 100,000 jobs last month, which would likely keep the unemployment rate at 8.2 percent.
The trajectory of late hasn't given the Obama White House anything to celebrate.
The American economy grew at a listless 1.5 percent annual pace from April through June, even slower than the 2 percent rate in the first three months of the year.
The economy added only 80,000 jobs in June, erasing any doubt that the United States is in a summer slump for the third year in a row. From April through June, the economy produced an average of just 75,000 jobs a month, the weakest three months since August through October 2010.
The slide comes after the optimism of early 2012, when the first three months of job growth averaged more than 225,000 a month.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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