Washington. The US economy created a solid 163,000 jobs in July, the Labor Department said Friday, unveiling data that will help President Barack Obama dull attacks from his Republican election rival.
The economy created many more jobs than the 100,000 expected from economists, and although the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.3 percent, the report is likely to be seen as evidence that the economy is still on track.
The service, manufacturing, and food and drink sectors were among those showing gains, as the economy created more jobs than at any time since February.
With fewer than 100 days to go until the US presidential election, the figures will also help set the tone for the race for the White House.
Republican Mitt Romney will zero in on the rising unemployment rate, which is the highest since February and is, for the 42nd straight month, above eight percent.
But the number of jobs created will make it difficult for Romney to steer the debate away from issues that have seen him drop in the polls.
The last month has seen Romney criticized for not releasing more of his tax returns, diplomatic missteps in Britain, Israel and Poland, his dealings at Bain Capital and his tax plan.
That has resulted in Obama opening up a two-point lead in national tracking polls as he pulls away in key swing states like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, leaving Romney with plenty to do if the election is not to slip through his hands.