WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama used another month of job growth to make the case that the economy is getting stronger. But GOP opponents note that some economic numbers were better before he took office.
Speaking at a manufacturing plant in Virginia Friday, the president pointed to the latest jobs report, which shows employers added 227,000 jobs in February. The unemployment rate also stayed at 8.3 percent, the first time in six months it didn't fall.
"Here's the good news. Over the past two years our businesses have added over nearly 4 million new jobs," Obama said.
"The economy is getting stronger," he added. "When I come to places like this and I see the work that's being done, it gives me confidence there are better days ahead. I would bet on American workers and American know-how any day of the week."
Analysts expect the unemployment rate to drop gradually as the economy continues to grow slowly.
But it's the president's handling of the economy that's expected to be a major issue during the general election.
When President Obama took office, the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent, compared to today's 8.3 percent. And four years ago, the average cost per gallon of gas was just $1.84. Now, it's $3.79.
GOP presidential candidates are using those numbers to attack the president.
"Since this president's been president, the cost of gasoline has doubled. Not exactly what he might have hoped for," former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said. "And he says, 'Well it's not my fault.' We've gone from 'Yes, we can' to 'It's not my fault.'"
While the economy is growing at a slower place than anyone would like, the president said the crisis began before he took office.
"We can't go back to the same policies that got us into this mess," Obama said.
"We can't go back to an economy that was weakened by outsourcing and bad debt and phony financial profits," he continued. "We've got to have an economy that's built to last."
The Obama administration hopes to dispel any assumption that the job market is destined to keep improving at the same pace before the November election.
The president himself said Americans can expect job numbers to waver in the coming months.
- Originally aired on March 9th, 2012