The economy added 80,000 jobs in June, a figure that will add to the anxiety within President Obama's campaign.
The weak figures underscore concerns about the labor market, and were slightly under the forecasts of some economists. The unemployment rate remained steady at 8.2 percent.
The negative report comes as President Obama makes a bus trip through the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, focusing his speeches on the economy. Friday's report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests Obama will continue to run with a weak economy behind him that could boost Republican Mitt Romney's efforts to unseat him.
Speaking in Ohio, Obama said the jobs numbers are "a step in the right direction" and argued that the economy isn't struggling because of his policies, but because of a "stalemate in Washington."
He criticized Romney's economic ideas, saying they were tried and failed in the decade before he took office, and led to the financial crisis and the problems the economy continues to face.
"We've got to grow the economy even faster and put more people back to work," he said in Poland, Ohio.
In comments from New Hampshire, Romney put the blame on the White House’s economic policies, saying Obama has failed to create jobs and that it is time for a change. "This kick in the gut has got to end," Romney said.
June's report follows a terrible report in May that initially found the economy added only 68,000 jobs. That led to a low point in Obama's year, as a week later he remarked that the private sector was "doing fine" while the public sector was shedding jobs.
Republicans pounced on those remarks at the time, and Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Debt ceiling games endanger US fiscal credibility — again MORE (R-Ohio) piled on Friday with the latest figures.
"Today's report shows the private sector clearly isn’t ‘doing fine’ and that President Obama’s policies have failed," BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Debt ceiling games endanger US fiscal credibility — again MORE said before criticizing Obama's stimulus package, his healthcare law and his investments in green energy companies, including the failed California solar firm Solyndra.
“The president needs to stop betting on his failed policies and start working with Republicans to remove government obstacles to job creation," Boehner said.
In Friday's report the Bureau of Labor Statistics also revised its findings for April and May. In April, statistics were revised down from 77,000 jobs to 68,000, while in May the figure was revised up to 77,000 jobs from 69,000.
The last three months show the job market lost steam in the spring after a relatively strong winter.
Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody's Analytics, said Friday on MSNBC that he still expects the labor market to improve this summer, with underlying job growth of 150,000 a month.
But he cautioned, “I've been overly optimistic the past four months, so you have to take that with a grain of salt.”
While layoffs remain at a “very low level,” Zandi said hiring is being held back by pending action in Congress on taxes and spending and news about Europe's financial situation.
“The reality is that the economic expansion remains intact, but is not strong enough to make anyone feel very good about it given the 8 percent-plus unemployment rate,” he said.
He also cautioned that the economic recovery isn't really deteriorating at a rate that would require the Federal Reserve to step in with another round of monetary stimulus. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has said the central bank could take action, if necessary, on the economy.
According to Friday's report, professional and business services added 47,000 jobs in June, with temporary help services accounting for 25,000 of the increase. Manufacturing slowed down, but added 11,000 jobs. Employment continued to trend up in healthcare with an addition of 13,000 jobs.
—This story was posted at 8:32 a.m. and updated at 11:32 a.m.