WASHINGTON _ After enjoying a streak of good news on the jobs front, President Obama's reaction to the disappointing March job report was measured and quick.
Obama made only a passing reference to the report on Friday, as he addressed a White House forum on women and the workforce. The president seized on bright spots _ a slightly lower unemployment rate and the 120,000 new jobs _ and then qualified his optimism.
"But it's clear to every American that there will still be ups and downs along the way and that we've got a lot more work to do," Obama said. "And that includes addressing challenges that are unique to women's economic security, challenges that have been around since long before the recession hit."
The monthly report from the Labor Department found that employers added a modest 120,000 jobs in March, ending a streak of solid job gains in the previous three months. The nation's jobless rate inched down to 8.2 percent from 8.3 percent in February, but the size of the labor force shrunk, an indication that some people were giving up on the search for work and being left out of the headcount of the unemployed.
Republicans who have had to tone down their criticism in reaction to the recent reports did not hold back on Friday.
"It is increasingly clear the Obama economy is not working and that after three years in office the president's excuses have run out," said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Obama's likely opponent in November.
Republicans in Congress used the numbers to promote their proposed remedies _ lowering taxes on small businesses and top earners, cutting environmental and other regulations, trimming government spending and the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
"Unfortunately, the president is refusing to get serious about addressing our fiscal and economic challenges," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement. "We invite the president and his fellow Democrats who run Washington to join us in acting on common ground that would help the private sector put people back to work."