Obama, GOP Spar Over Women's Unemployment Numbers

Political finger-pointing centers on the meager jobs gains in March.

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The Republicans are hitting back against any perception that the economy is making big gains based on Friday's government unemployment report, with a special GOP emphasis on how the long-term economic downturn is harming women.

[See pictures of Obama's re-election campaign.]

"Across America, women are feeling the pain of the weak economy--in the job market and at the kitchen table," said Republican National Committee Co-Chairwoman Sharon Day.

"Wives are worried about shrinking wages and rising prices as they try to make ends meet. Mothers fear for their children's futures as the national debt skyrockets and college becomes unaffordable. Businesswomen are frustrated by the regulations and economic policies that make hiring impossible."

Day added in a statement to reporters: "The number of employed women declined last month and the number who have dropped out of the labor market increased. For far too long, women have been left behind in Obama's job market. Of the 740,000 jobs lost since Obama took office, 683,000 of them were held by women. That is truly unsustainable."

[Read Romney, Obama Agree on One Thing: Let Women Join Augusta.]

Recent polls show that President Obama has a strong lead among women in a general election matchup with Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, and GOP officials say they will work hard to close the gender gap.

While the Democrats and White House officials pointed to the positive side of the jobs report, the Republicans focused on the negative part—that the economy added only 120,000 jobs last month after much larger gains in January and February. Economists had been expecting between 200,000 and 300,000 new jobs to be created in March.

For his part, President Obama said Friday that while there is still a lot of work to be done to improve the economy, he was heartened because the unemployment rate fell from 8.3 percent to 8.2 percent.

Alan Krueger, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, said in a statement, "There is more work to be done, but [Friday]'s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression."

In another indication of how women have become a focal point of the 2012 campaign, Obama told a White House Forum on Women and the Economy Friday that he is working hard not only to strengthen the economy, but also to improve women's lives by reforming the health care system.

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