Pittsburgh (CNN) – Mitt Romney, slamming President Barack Obama for his performance creating jobs, said Friday any unemployment figure above 4% shouldn't be cause for celebration.
Romney's comments came hours after the Labor Department released figures showing hiring slowed in April, and workers dropped out of the labor force at an alarming rate. At the same time, the unemployment rate fell to 8.1%.
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"Just this morning there was some news that came across the wire that said that the unemployment rate has dropped to 8.1% and normally that would be cause for celebration, but, in fact, anything over 8%, anything near 8%, anything over 4% is not cause for celebration," Romney told a crowd while campaigning in Pittsburgh.
America's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was last below 4% in December 2000, when it stood at 3.9%. That was at the end of President Bill Clinton's second term in office. In October 2004, just before President George W. Bush won re-election, the unemployment rate was 5.5%.
Romney went on to point out the statistics on workers who have dropped out of the labor force, saying the rate of people in the workforce reflected a sad reality. At 63.6%, the portion of the working-age population participating in the job market is now at its lowest level since 1981.
"The unemployment rate is lower now because not so many people want to work," Romney said. "This is a sad time in America. When people who want work can't find jobs. College kids, kids coming out of college. Surveys said half of the kids coming out of college can't find work or can't find work that's consistent with their skills. This is a time when America wants to have someone who knows what it takes to create jobs and get people working again."
Repeating an oft-used campaign line, Romney told the crowd that in order to create jobs, "it helps to have had a job."
Romney discussed the plight of taxes on small businesses at the Sauereisen Concrete Company, which has been owned by the same family for three generations.
"Right now small business, the top rate they pay is the individual tax rate of 35% and 35% of what they make will go into the government income tax rolls. Then they have the state income tax rolls on top of that," he said.
"What's the state tax here in Pennsylvania?" Romney asked, to which a few people responded with 3.07, the state's flat rate income tax and considered low compared to other states. After he heard the number Romney joked, "That .07 gets you doesn't it?"
At one point during his campaign rally, Romney was interrupted by a veteran who, among other points, advocated turning a veterans' hospital slated to be shut down into a veterans' university.
After a minute of letting the man make his points, Romney interjected, asking if he could finish his stump speech. The candidate eventually allowed the attendee to finish his point.