(CNN) - Republican presidential candidates were among the first to respond to the July jobs numbers Friday, using the figures to illustrate what they call the failures of the Obama administration.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said the jobs report is a "far cry from the hope and change that President Obama promised on the campaign trail."
"This lack of leadership is inexcusable and driving our economy toward decline," Pawlenty said in a statement. "It's time for a new president to point us back in the right direction, and I am the only candidate who has proposed a specific economic plan that will create jobs and grow our economy."
The job market strengthened in July with employers added 117,000 jobs, well above the 46,000 jobs added in June. The unemployment rate improved slightly to 9.1 percent.
Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said Obama's "failed economic policies are digging us deeper into a hole."
"The President can attempt to blame and spin away this week's bad economic news, but you can't fool the markets," Bachmann said in a statement. "Mr. President – the only way to dig us out of this hole your administration has gotten us into is to stop digging."
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney warned of eight years of Obama.
"When you see what this president has done to the economy in just three years, you know why America doesn't want to find out what he can do in eight," Romney said in a statement.
Former Utah Gov. and U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman said Obama has failed to turn the economy around since he took office.
"When President Obama should have been focused on creating jobs, he focused on a government-mandated health care system that the American people didn't ask for and can't afford. What we can't afford now is to waste any more time," Huntsman said in a statement. "America needs a President who knows how to create an economic environment that allows entrepreneurs to thrive and create jobs."