WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) -- Washington was abuzz Friday about the political implications of the improving July jobs report, but Democrats and Republicans blamed each other for a lack of progress on the economy.
Employers added 117,000 jobs last month, well more than the 46,000 jobs that were added in June. The unemployment rate dropped to 9.1%.
With each passing month of continued high unemployment, the stakes grow for President Obama's re-election bid.
But a spurt in hiring could make things easier for the president, who is coming off a tough week in Washington, having eked out a last-minute deal with Republicans to raise the debt ceiling while cutting spending.
A CNN/ORC International poll showed Obama's overall approval rating hovering steady at 45%. But his support among liberals, at 71%, remains at a record low with more than half of all Democrats saying he gave up too much in the debt ceiling deal.
On Friday, White House chief economist Austan Goolsbee called the jobs report "welcome," but added that Washington needs to do more.
"While the better-than-expected report is welcome news, the unemployment rate remains unacceptably high and faster growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn," Goolsbee said in a statement released on the White House blog. "Bipartisan action is needed to help the private sector and the economy grow."
Goolsbee pointed to several job creation efforts he said would "put Americans back to work" but that Congress has yet to pass. Among them: another payroll tax cut; extended unemployment insurance; free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea and investment in infrastructure projects.
But Republicans wasted little time attacking Democrats over the report. In fact, House Speaker John Boehner's statement, which came out eight minutes after the jobs report was released, appeared a little too sharp, given the rosier-than-expected jobs report.
"Today's unemployment report is more proof that all of the Washington spending, taxing, and regulating is devastating our economy," Boehner said.
Even Republican presidential hopefuls tried to get into the mix. Mitt Romney released a statement pointing out the unemployment rate remains above 8%.
"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," Romey said.
Another Republican candidate, Rep. Michele Bachmann, said in a statement that despite the "slight improvement" in the jobs numbers, "it is still evidence that the president's failed economic policies are digging us deeper into a hole."
And Jon Huntsman, who had been an ambassador to China in the Obama administration, issued one of his most critical statements of the president, saying Obama had two-and-a-half years "to turn around the American economy and it is clear he has failed."
"What we can't afford now is to waste any more time," Huntsman said.
But Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released a statement accusing Republicans of hijacking jobs bills with ideological crusades.
"We need Republicans to stop using common-sense jobs bills as vehicles for the Tea Party's ideological agenda, and forcing us to run the government from one manufactured crisis to the next," Reid said.
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