Updated: 3:48 p.m. ET
(CBS News) Pouncing on July's jobs report, Republicans on Friday continued to hammer the Obama administration for economic policies they say are failing the American people; Democrats, however, were cautiously optimistic that the same report indicated signs of economic improvement.
According to the Labor Department report, , the highest such figure since February, and one that outpaced expectations for the month. Unemployment, however, ticked up by a tenth of a point, from 8.2 percent in June to 8.3 percent in July.
Republicans immediately seized on the unemployment number, blasting the Obama administration in a flurry of emailed statements released shortly after the report's 8:30 release.
"Today's increase in the unemployment rate is a hammer blow to struggling middle-class families," said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in a statement. "President Obama doesn't have a plan and believes that the private sector is 'doing fine.' Obviously, that is not the case."
House Speaker John Boehner, meanwhile, associated the reports to the now-ubiquitous Republican criticism of Mr. Obama's "you didn't build that," comment, which is touted as evidence that the president does not believe in small businesses.
"Two years after the Obama administration declared, 'welcome to the recovery,' this much is clear: with 42 consecutive months of unemployment above eight percent, the private sector still isn't 'doing fine' and President Obama's economic plan did not work," Boehner said in a statement. "While the president is telling small businesses 'you didn't build that,' his policies are making sure they can't."
(Watch: Romney calls July jobs report a "hammer blow" to the middle class.)
"Last week President Obama said, 'We tried our plan, and it worked.' With the unemployment rate going up again, it's obvious that plan didn't work at all," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. "President Obama's only plans for a second term are higher taxes and more spending--exactly the opposite of what we need."
Rob Portman, who is widely viewed as a top Republican vice presidential contender, also weighed in:
"Another disappointing jobs report, this one showing unemployment on the rise and not enough jobs being created to keep up with population growth," he said in a statement. "With now more than 12.8 million Americans looking for work, it is clear that current policies are not working to turn things around."
Democrats, meanwhile, expressed cautious optimism over the stronger-than-anticipated number of jobs added, but stressed that much work remains.
"While there is more work that remains to be done, today's employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression," said Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
"The economy has now added private sector jobs for 29 straight months, for a total of 4.5 million jobs during that period," he wrote in a blog post. "As the Administration stresses every month, the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available. "
Krueger dismissed the notion that the uptick in unemployment was a sign of economic demise, pointing out that the number was rounded up from 8.254 percent (in June, the number was rounded down from 8.217 percent, meaning that the statistical differential between the two is .037 percent) and citing BLS Commissioner John Galvin as calling the figure "essentially unchanged" from June to July.
(Watch: President Obama responds to July jobs numbers.)
"Today's jobs report is small step in the right direction," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in a Tweet, before pivoting to an attack of her fellow House Republicans. "But more needs to be done. GOP decided to head home rather than take action."
"We have now seen 27 straight months of private sector job growth, along with encouraging progress in critical sectors such as manufacturing. Our economy is recovering, but recovering slowly," added Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in a statement. "Instead of spending all of their energy trying to defeat President Obama, I hope my Republican colleagues will listen to their constituents, drop their obstruction, and start working with Democrats. Middle-class Americans expect us to put politics aside and do the right thing for our economy, and they deserve nothing less."