President Obama portrayed a disappointing jobs report — just 80,000 added to the payrolls in June — as "a step in the right direction," during a campaign stop in Ohio Friday.
The lackluster report was a stinging reminder to the president that millions of people are still struggling to find jobs, and that he will likely face continued economic headwinds in the final months before the November election.
The report, which left the unemployment rate unchanged at 8.2 percent and was the third month in a row of underwhelming economic figures, gives presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney an opening to exploit with Election Day only four months away. Mr. Romney Friday called the jobs numbers a "kick in the gut" that showed Mr. Obama's economic program wasn't working.
During remarks at a school in Poland, Ohio, part of a two-day bus tour through the battleground states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, Mr. Obama focused on private-sector job growth.
"Businesses have created 4.4 million new jobs over the past 28 months, including 500,000 new manufacturing jobs," he said. "That's a step in the right direction."
"But we can't be satisfied because our goal was never just to keep on working on where we were in 2007," he said. "I want to get back to a time when the middle class has some basic security, and we've got to grow the economy faster and put more people back to work."
A Romney campaign spokeswoman later rejected Mr. Obama's claim that the June report is a "step in the right direction."
"Seriously?" Andrea Saul said in a statement. "As Gov. Romney said today, 'This is a time for America to choose whether they want more of the same; whether unemployment above 8 percent month after month after month is satisfactory or not.'"
She also pointed out that 130,000 to 150,000 jobs a month must be created in order to keep up with population growth.
"Only 80k jobs is losing ground," she said.
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