U.S. adds 163,000 jobs; unemployment at 8.3 percent

WASHINGTON Friday’s monthly unemployment report provides Republican Mitt Romney a fresh chance to highlight discontent over the economy even as President Barack Obama pre-empted him with a swing-state ad campaign attacking the challenger’s tax plan.

While payrolls rose by 163,000, more than forecast, the jobless rate increased to 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent, a five-month high, the Labor Department reported.

Neither number is likely to sway many voters, said Dan Schnur, a campaign adviser to Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s first bid for the White House.

“Voters already know what they think about the economy,” Schnur, director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, said Thursday. “What’s left is for them to decide who can do something to make it better.”

Private forecasters expected the unemployment rate to hold steady at 8.2 percent and payrolls to increase by 100,000 after an 80,000 gain in June, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

U.S. stocks rose following the Labor Department report. The economy is the dominant issue in the presidential race and the two campaigns are taking divergent approaches to framing the debate.

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