(CBS News) WASHINGTON - Despite the hopeful news of over 160,000 additional jobs created, it was tempered by the announcement that America's unemployment rose a tenth of a point to 8.3 percent. No president since Franklin Roosevelt has been re-elected with an unemployment rate this high. But President Obama Friday decided to focus on the number of jobs that were created.
"Those are our neighbors and family members finding work, and the security that comes with work," he announced. "But let's acknowledge we've still got too many folks out there looking for work. We've got to do more on their behalf."
Still, the slight rise in unemployment was a disappointment at the White House, where senior advisers used to predict privately that the rate would be below 8 percent by Election Day.
"Any increase in the unemployment rate is unwelcome," said Alan Krueger, the president's top economist.
On Friday, Mitt Romney called the unemployment rate a hammer blow to middle-class families. But Krueger said: "I don't think it was a hammer blow to the 163,000 Americans who found a job in July.The president has made a number of proposals that we believe will lower the unemployment rate. And if Congress acts on those proposals, I would expect the unemployment rate to come down further .
The president urged Congress to give middle-class families more certainty by extending the Bush tax cuts for households making less than $250,000 a year. Republicans including Mr. Romney want the tax cuts extended for even the highest earners
But a Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times poll this week found roughly 6 in 10 voters in three states that could decide this election agree with the president's position.
"I just think we've got our priorities skewed if the notion is that we give tax breaks to folks who don't need them, and to help pay for that, we tax folks who are already struggling to get by," Mr. Obama said. "That's not how you grow an economy."
White House officials argued Friday that we shouldn't focus on any single monthly jobs report, and that what's really important is that the private sector has been creating jobs for the past 29 straight months.