Washington (CNN) - Congressional Republicans are using the release of July's jobs report to criticize the Obama administration's economic policies.
The Labor Department reports Friday that the unemployment rate stayed steady at 9.5 percent last month, with 71,000 private sector jobs created which was less than forecasts by many economists. Overall employment fell by 131,000 jobs in July, as the government continues to unload Census workers, a move that offset the gains in private business hiring.
Related: Jobs continue to sputter
With the economy the top issue with Americans and the midterm elections less than three months away, the monthly unemployment report is arguably the most important number in politics right now.
(Updated after the jump with reaction from the White House)
"Today's disappointing jobs report falls short of where we need to be," said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, in a statement put out less than seven minutes after the Labor Department released the jobs report. "The policies originating from this White House are creating an environment of uncertainty and fear for business people and employees, preventing investment and hiring."
In response to the report, the top Republican in the House echoed a familiar GOP refrain when it comes to the economy. "How many more times do families and small businesses have to ask 'where are the jobs' before President Obama changes course?" House Minority Leader John Boehner asked in a statement released a few minutes later.
And Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele chimed in as well, saying that "for the millions of Americans who are unable to find work, this White House's empty cheerleading rings hollow."
Responding to Friday's report, The White House said that even though much progress has been made, July's employment numbers illustrate that more work is ahead.
"There will likely be more bumps in the road ahead as the economy recovers," Christina Romer, the outgoing chairwoman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, said in a statement posted on the White House's website. "The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative. It is essential that we continue our efforts to move in the right direction and replace job losses with robust job gains."
Obama is scheduled to make comments on the economy at a midday speech in Washington Friday.
–CNNMoney.com Senior Writer Chris Isidore contributed to this report.
Updated: 10:16 a.m. with statement from the White House