WASHINGTON (August 3, 2012)--President Barack Obama got new figures Friday to buttress his argument that he's presiding over steady, if slow, economic growth, but the Labor Department’s report that the overall rate of unemployment actually crept up to 8.3 percent allows Republican rival Mitt Romney to keep pressure on Mr. 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, but the jobless rate rose 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 standing at more than 8 percent.
Mr. Obama said the figures show there are too many people looking for work.
“We've got more work to do on their behalf,” he said.
The president is urging Congress to pass a tax cut extension for families making less than $250,000 a year and says the "last thing" the nation should do is push higher taxes on middle-class families.
Mr. Obama said the economy is not improving fast enough for many workers, but he noted that the private sector has created 4.5 million new jobs in the past 29 months.