GOP pounces quickly on unchanged unemployment rate

Republicans pounced quickly on Friday on new jobs figures showing that the unemployment rate stayed at 9.6 percent.

GOP leaders saw political opportunity in the statistics, which showed the unemployment rate unchanged for the second straight month.

"Today’s jobs report is the latest reminder that small-business people, job creators and investors need certainty before they can grow," said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.). "Over the past two years, the policies pursued by the president and Democrat leaders in Congress have created a cloud of uncertainty and fear that has inhibited productivity, innovation and job creation."

The jobless figures could weigh heavily on Democrats going into the pivotal midterm elections set for Nov. 2. Voters consistently rank jobs and the economy as among the most important factors in making up their mind about which candidate to choose on Election Day.

President Obama is expected to make remarks later this morning on the monthly jobs numbers after touring a small business in Bladensburg, Md. The president is almost certain to focus on the creation of 64,000 private-sector jobs in September, despite an overall decrease of 95,000 in nonfarm payroll employment.

Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas), who leads House Republicans' campaign efforts as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), said the September numbers should define the debate over the economy for the rest of the election cycle.

“This report is not only the final affirmation of the failed job-killing policies of Washington Democrats, but it frames the national political debate from now until Election Day," he said in a statement. "There is now no doubt that this election will be a referendum on the Obama-Pelosi agenda that has created chronic unemployment and paralyzed the free enterprise system."

Indeed, even if jobless numbers were to improve dramatically for the month of October, those figures won't be released until the first Friday in November — three days after voters head to the polls and cast their ballot.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sought to frame the September numbers as just the latest in a string of disappointing jobs reports.

"[W]ith each passing month, and each new jobs report, it becomes increasingly clear that while massive Washington spending is growing the size of government, it’s clearly not growing sustainable private-sector jobs," he said.

The unemployment rate has wavered between 9.5 and 9.7 percent since May.