WASHINGTON – 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.