By Justin Chermol

The White House defended its economic performance on Friday after a jobs report showed a much lower rate of jobs growth than expected.

"This is just one data point. When you look at productivity, it's increased. So, we still feel very strongly that the economy is moving in the right direction," White House Strategic Director of Communications Mercedes Schlapp told Cheddar's J.D. Durkin Friday.

When the Labor Department released its February jobs report on Friday, it marked the worst month of job growth since President Trump took office: Nonfarm jobs grew by a meager 20,000, compared with the almost 180,000 economists were expecting.

But Schlapp said the administration sees strength even in the weaker report: "When you look at the average ー in terms of the monthly average of jobs ー it's about over 20,000 jobs that we have created every month, and it's been consecutive job growth for quite some time."

Unemployment, moreover, fell to 3.8 percent from 4 percent, and wages continue to grow by 11-cents per hour.

"So, positive news, again ー we are hoping that for next month it's even better ー but this is just one data point in the larger trend of economic growth," Schlapp said, adding that the the President is responsible for a "booming economy that we've never seen before."

She also attributed the "boom" to low unemployment for women and blue-collar workers.

Democrats, however, saw things differently. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called the jobs report "abysmal" and a "stark warning from an economy being hollowed out by the GOP’s devastating special interest agenda."

"I don't think Speaker Pelosi necessarily understands how the economy works, because her vision is that of tax increases, and that of more regulations, and that of moving our economy into less free markets and more of a socialistic model," Schlapp fired back.

Schlapp's comments echo the GOP's recent drumbeat of anti-socialist rhetoric as the Democratic Party is leaning to the progressive left, led by 2020 hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and rising congressional stars like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Schlapp said today's young voters "want to do better than their parents, and part of this is working hard, doing the best they can, and knowing that in America we have endless opportunities.

"That is very different from a socialist agenda where the government decides how you live and also your future," Schlapp said.