Republicans are wasting no time in criticizing President Obama for the lagging economy in light of the latest jobs report that showed unemployment ticking up from 8.1 percent in April to 8.2 percent in May. The report also revealed fewer jobs created than expected and revised down the number of jobs added in recent months.
"Slowing GDP growth, plunging consumer confidence, an increase in unemployment claims, and now another dismal jobs report all stand as a harsh indictment of the president's handling of the economy," said Mitt Romney in a release. "It is now clear to everyone that President Obama's policies have failed to achieve their goals and that the Obama economy is crushing America's middle class."
The Republican presidential nominee has pinned his election hopes on portraying himself as a potential economic savior and the president as a hapless failure at turning things around.
"If elected president, Gov. Romney will end President Obama's job-killing policies," said Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee. "Unlike President Obama, Mitt Romney actually has the experience and the know-how to get our country moving, finally, in the right direction."
Obama took office during the economic freefall and was sworn in as the unemployment rate skyrocketed, but Americans and the economy have continued to struggle.
Most experts say the presidential race – which by all accounts is neck-and-neck – will hinge on the health of the economy or at least voters' perception of it. That's what makes the latest report so damaging for the Obama campaign and Democrats and why Republicans are eagerly hammering away at them.
House Speaker John Boehner took Senate Democrats to task for failing to move on so-called jobs bills that the Republican-controlled House has passed.
"The House has passed more than 30 jobs bills to expand energy production and approve popular projects like Keystone XL, eliminate excessive federal red tape, repeal laws like Obamacare that are making it harder for small businesses to hire new workers and more," he said in a statement. "While Senate Democrats are blocking these and other important jobs bills and President Obama is occupied campaigning, the House will continue to focus on liberating job creators and building a stronger economy for all Americans."
Not surprisingly, congressional Democrats are pointing the finger at their GOP counterparts for the flailing economy.
"[Friday]'s jobs report shows that congressional Republicans' do-nothing, confrontation over compromise approach to jobs isn't working," said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat. "House Republicans' summer legislative agenda makes no mention of job-creating legislation, promising to buck their responsibility on jobs for several additional months."
Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, sought to highlight the silver lining of the May jobs report.
"The economy lost jobs for 25 straight months beginning in February 2008 and over 8 million jobs were lost as a result of the Great Recession," he said in a statment released by the White House. "[On Friday] we learned that the economy has added private sector jobs for 27 straight months, for a total of 4.3 million payroll jobs over that period. The economy is growing but it is not growing fast enough."
Gains have been made in manufacturing, education and health services, he added.
"After losing millions of good manufacturing jobs in the years before and during the recession the economy has added 495,000 manufacturing jobs since January 2010 - the strongest growth for any 28-month period since April 1995," Krueger said. "To continue the revival in manufacturing jobs and output, the president has proposed tax incentives for manufacturers, enhanced training for the workforce and measures to create manufacturing hubs and encourage the growing trend of insourcing."
Obama, meanwhile, has been campaigning across the country recently taking House Republicans to task for failing to move on those legislative proposals and other 'job creation' measures.
And polls show Americans are just generally fed up with all lawmakers, giving them near-record low approval marks.
Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.