Republicans hammer Obama over April job numbers

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign stop in Chantilly, Va., Wednesday, May 2, 2012.
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Updated: 2:29 p.m. ET

(CBS News) -- Seizing on April's report of slower job growth, Republicans on Friday targeted President Obama for implementing economic policies they argue are impeding economic recovery.

In an appearance on Fox News Friday, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney called the report "very, very disappointing," and cited it as evidence that Mr. Obama's economic policies are not working.

"The American people are wondering why this recovering isn't happening faster, why it's taking years and years for the recovery to occur," Romney said. "And we seem to be slowing down, not speeding up and this is not progress."

"This is very, very disappointing and a lot of American people are having very hard times and this is not good news this morning," he added.

At a campaign stop in Pittsburgh, the former Massachusetts governor stayed on point, saying of the 8.1 percent unemployment rate: "[A]nything over 8 percent, anything near 8 percent, anything over 4 percent is not cause for celebration."

According to the report, the U.S. economy added 115,000 new jobs in April and the unemployment rate fell from 8.2 to 8.1 percent, the lowest level since January 2009.

Despite the drop in the unemployment rate, fewer jobs were created in April than any month since October 2011, when just 80,000 jobs were created.

In January, the economy added 275,000 jobs; February was revised upward to 259,000 from the originally reported 240,000; and March was also revised higher to 154,000 from 120,000. Including data released Friday, the average monthly job creation this year has been about 200,000.

"Today's report is more evidence President Obama's policies aren't working for families and small businesses, and aren't creating enough jobs to get our economy back on track," said House Speaker John Boehner, in a statement. "Where are the jobs?"

Boehner accused Mr. Obama of pushing "election-year gimmicks" like the Buffett Rule, a tax plan that would raise revenues for the wealthy, rather than supporting initiatives like the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline that Republicans argue would speed up job growth.

And Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus called the job growth "anemic."

"President Obama's desperate hype-and-blame campaign will try to spin today's anemic jobs report six ways to Sunday, but the facts remain clear: too many Americans have been unemployed for far too long. For millions, the economy is simply not working," Priebus said in a prepared statement.

The Obama administration defended the nation's economic progress Friday, calling the monthly numbers "volatile" and pointing to the overall job growth in 2012 as evidence that the economy is healing.

"These numbers are volatile. Every month I say the same thing," said Alan Krueger, chairman of the president's council of economic advisers, in an appearance on MSNBC. "What you want to do is take a step back. Look at where the economy is headed, where it's coming from. Over the last four months we've added over 800,000 jobs. And the recovery is continuing. We have a long way to go given how deep the hole was, given the problems were building up over decades, but we're headed in a much better direction now and I think this report is further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal."

Questioned on why specifically the growth appeared to have slowed down in April, Krueger noted that in the first quarter of 2012, "we had the best job growth that we've had since 2006."

"I think you need to step back and kind of put these numbers in context," he said. "I think that we also have to recognize that given the severity of the recession, given the nature of the financial crisis, this recovery has faced a lot of headwinds. And in spite of those headwinds we've now had 26 months in a row of private sector job growth; we've had 11 quarters in a row of economic growth. The residential construction sector has shown growth over each o the last 4 quarters for the first time since 2005. So there are signs that the economy is healing from these very deep problems."

With reporting by Sarah Huisgenga.