(CNN) - President Barack Obama touted overall job creation numbers from his time in office on Friday morning, hours after a jobs report brought mixed news on the nation's employment picture. He also urged Republicans in Congress to pass a tax measure which remains a rift between the two parties.
Private sector hiring was up in July, with the economy creating a net 163,000 jobs, but the unemployment rate also increased from 8.2% to 8.3%, according to the Labor Department's report.
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Obama touted the private sector portion of the report, which showed 172,000 new jobs. The public sector lost some 9,000 jobs.
"That means that we've now created 4.5 million new jobs over the last 29 months, and 1.1 million new jobs so far this year," Obama said in remarks in Washington at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. "Those are our neighbors and family members finding work and the security that comes with work.
But Obama is still 316,000 jobs away from being a net job creator in office - as 4.316 million jobs were lost in his first 13 months in office, and 4 million jobs have been added since then.
"We've got more work to do on their behalf, not only to reclaim all the jobs that were lost during the recession, but also to reclaim the kind of financial security that too many, Americans have felt was slipping away from them for too long," he said of the unemployed. "And we knew when I started in this job that this was going to take some time. We haven't had to come back from an economic crisis this deep or this painful since the 1930s."
At a press conference following the president's remarks - and at his own concurrent event - presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney said "the president's policies are to blame for not having gotten the economy back on track."
"It's very clear the president's policies have not worked the way the said they would," he told reporters in Las Vegas, Nevada. "I think it's an extraordinary failure of policy, a failure of leadership, and I think it's a moral failure for a country as successful and prosperous as our own to go now four years in a mode which feels to many people like a recession."
At his event, Romney said the report was "another hammer blow to the struggling middle class families of America."
Obama's remarks took place at an official, rather than campaign, event, and he declined to specifically name Romney, but he did blast "the policies that helped to create this mess in the first place."
The president then turned his focus to Republicans in Congress, who he said "voted to hold these middle-class tax cuts hostage unless we also spend a trillion dollars over the next decade on tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans."
Republicans and Democrats differ on extending the Bush-era tax breaks, with Republicans generally supportive of extending the cuts on income of all levels and Democrats generally favoring an extension on income below a certain threshold, such as the $250,000 number advanced by Obama.
"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. That's
not how you grow an economy," Obama said. "You grow an economy from the middle out and from the bottom up. And the kind of approach that the House Republicans are talking about is bad for our families and it's bad for our economy."
The break, Obama said, would still result in a break for the wealthy - on the first $250,000 of their earnings.
But while Republicans and Democrats sort out their differences on breaks for the rest of wealthy individuals' income, Obama repeated his call for Congress to act soon - well before what some call the "fiscal cliff" at years' end.
"There's no reason to wait," Obama said. "There's no reason to make families and small businesses anxious just so one party can score political points. Let's go ahead and give them that guarantee now that their taxes won't go up next year."
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