(CNN) - Mitt Romney was the first Republican presidential candidate to react to November's promising jobs report, criticizing President Barack Obama's performance and saying that "the fact that so many millions of Americans are unemployed only highlights the urgent need for a fundamental change in the direction of our country."
The Labor Department on Friday announced the nation's unemployment rate fell to 8.6% last month, the lowest level since March of 2009, with employers adding 120,000 jobs, marking a pick up in hiring from October. Economists surveyed by CNNMoney had expected an additional 110,000 jobs in the month and the unemployment rate to remain unchanged.
Job growth from the two prior months was also stronger than originally reported, which was behind the drop in the overall unemployment rate. An additional 72,000 jobs were added during September and October combined.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who's making his second bid for the GOP nomination, put out a statement minutes after the release of the Labor Department report, saying that "today's unemployment figures bring to 34 the number of months that unemployment in the United States has been over 8 percent, the longest such spell since the Great Depression. The Obama administration may have come to accept such a high level of joblessness as the new normal. I will never accept it."
"It's very good news obviously, going into the holiday season. People are shopping again. So very good news that the unemployment rate is down, more people back to work. But look overall at the president's record on the economy. Its been miserable," added Romney, in an interview Friday morning on Fox News.
Polling indicates that the economy, by far, remains the top concern of American voters, and that jobs remain, by far, the most pressing economic concern.
The White House applauded the new numbers, but said more work remains.
"Today's employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but the pace of improvement is still not fast enough given the large job losses from the recession that began in December 2007," said Alan Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, in a statement.