How you view July's unemployment figures depends on where you sit.
President Barack Obama's chief economic adviser, Alan Krueger, said "today's unemployment rate provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression."
GOP candidate Mitt Romney called it "a hammer blow to middle class families." His campaign website makes the extravagant claim that a Romney administration would create 12 million new jobs in four years. (Even President Obama, no stranger to hyperbole, only promised 5 million new "green" jobs when he was a candidate.)
The Associated Press offered only the faint observation that the new jobless numbers were "a hopeful sign" — hopeful, perhaps, in the sense that they were much better than expected, although still weak.
The unemployment rate ticked upward slightly from 8.2 percent to 8.3 percent. In California, the latest available numbers show the unemployment rate stands at 10.7 percent, while Ventura County's rate is 9.2 percent.
On the national level, the economy added 163,000 new jobs, well above the anticipated 100,000 and much better than June's 64,000. Since the start of the year, the economy has added an average of 151,000 new jobs a month, barely enough to keep pace with population growth.
The gains were spread across the economy, except for construction, which lost 1,000, and government employment, which continues to drop, shedding 9,000 jobs last month. This kind of incremental, ambiguous improvement in the economy looks to be with us through the election campaign and that will be the battleground for the candidates.
President Obama's economic policies are a known quantity. Mr. Romney's economic platform is a detail-free promise to revive the country through tax and regulatory reform and basically undoing everything President Obama has done.
A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll showed 36 percent of voters believe Mr. Romney has a better plan for the economy versus 31 percent who think President Obama's policies are better.
It all depends on where you sit, and from this vantage point it looks like about two-thirds of the voters don't believe either one.