Romney: Jobs report "devastating"

Mitt Romney.

Updated: 1:53 p.m. ET

(CBS News) Shortly after the government released May's bleak jobs report on Friday, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney blasted President Obama for the-so-called "devastating" numbers, which he argued serve as a "harsh indictment of the President's handling of the economy."

"Today's weak jobs report is devastating news for American workers and American families. This week has seen a cascade of one bad piece of economic news after another. 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," Romney said in a statement.

"These numbers are devastating," Romney reiterated Friday afternoon in an interview with CNBC. "This is very bad news for the American people -- and the president is always quick to find someone to blame."

"The truth is, the job of the president is to get America back to work," he continued. When asked about near-term fixes for improving the economy, Romney argued that "probably the most significant thing we could do in the near-term is to get a new president."

House Speaker John Boehner echoed Romney's sentiment, positing in a statement that the jobs report was evidence that "President Obama's failed policies have made high unemployment and a weak economy the sad new normal for families and small businesses."

Rotten May jobs report underscores weak recovery

According to the May report, just 69,000 new jobs were added last month, down from every other month this year so far. In January, the economy added 275,000 jobs and February there were 259,000 new jobs. The slowdown began in March, when job creation totaled 143,000, followed by April's 77,000 and May's 69,000. May's report also showed the unemployment rate ticking back up to 8.2 percent.

In remarks at Honeywell Golden Valley Facility in Golden Valley, Minnesota Friday afternoon, President Obama conceded that, "as we learned in today's jobs report, were still not creating [jobs] as fast as we want."

"Just like at this time last year, our economy is still facing some serious headwinds. We had high gas prices a month, two months ago and they're starting to come down. And, you know, they were spiking, but they're still hitting people's wallets pretty hard. That has an impact," he said. But, he pledged, "we will come back stronger. We do have better days ahead. And that is because of all of you."

In a White House blog post, White House economic adviser Alan Krueger reiterated that "we are still fighting back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression."

"Today 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," Krueger wrote. Like Mr. Obama, he emphasized that America's economy "is not growing fast enough" but pointed to statistics showing "the labor force participation rate increased 0.2 percentage point to 63.8 percent," as well as growth in the manufacturing industry, education and health services, wholesale trade and temporary help services.

Even as Republicans sought Friday to use the jobs report as further evidence of the Mr. Obama's weaknesses on the economy, congressional Democrats countered that it was actually Republican obstruction, not the administration's policies, that was stifling growth.

"This report is a sharp reminder that Democrats and Republicans should be working together to strengthen our economy, create jobs, and put the middle class ahead of partisan politics," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in a statement. "If Republicans worked with us, we could pass legislation immediately to cut taxes for small businesses, prevent student loan rates from doubling and ensure women get paid the same amount as men for performing the same work."

Watch CBS News political director John Dickerson's webcast on what jobs numbers mean for President Obama's campaign in the video to the left.

Added former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: "America's workers and small businesses demand certainty; yet Republicans are risking another deep recession by threatening to hold the full faith and credit of the United States of America hostage and refusing to bring to the floor a vote on the middle-income tax cuts."

The state of the American economy in the coming months is expected to be a determining factor in November's presidential elections - regardless of which party is actually responsible. Much will hinge on the White House's ability to project a positive perception of the nation's economic trajectory between now and next fall.

"As the Administration stresses every month, the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision," Krueger wrote on Friday, in an apparent attempt to downplay the month's slower-than-average growth. "Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is helpful to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available."