October 5th, 2012
11:25 AM ET
2 years ago

Unemployment rate below 8% a boon for Obama, but Romney says not enough

Washington (CNN) – Friday's news that the nation's unemployment rate fell to 7.8% provided a much needed boost to President Barack Obama's campaign after a maligned debate performance, and left his rival Mitt Romney without a usual attack line criticizing the president for presiding over an economy with unemployment above 8%.

The report, which is the penultimate set of monthly jobs data before November's general election, also showed 114,000 jobs were created last month. The unemployment rate now stands where it did in 2009, when Obama took office. At a campaign rally Friday in Virginia, the president cast the number as an indication his policies were working.

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"Today I believe that as a nation, we are moving forward again. We're moving forward," Obama told a crowd of supporters in Fairfax.

The president, however, was careful not to crow too loudly.

"Every month reminds us that we've still got too many of our friends and neighbors who are looking for work," Obama said, adding: "Today's news certainly is not an excuse to try to talk down the economy to score a few political points. It is a reminder that this country has come too far to turn back now."

Romney ads: U.S. can't afford four more years of Obama

He also slammed his rival Mitt Romney, saying the GOP nominee wanted to give tax cuts to wealthy Americans at the expense of the middle class.

At an event in Abingdon, Virginia, Romney said that the country "can do better."

"There were fewer new jobs created this month than last month," he said. "And the unemployment rate as you noted this year has come down very, very slowly, but it's come down none the less. The reason it's come down this year is primarily due to the fact that more and more people have just stopped looking for work."

"So it looks like unemployment is getting better, but the truth is, if the same share of people were participating in the workforce today as on the day the president got elected, why our unemployment rate would be around 11%," he continued.

The new American job: Part time?

In January 2009 the labor force participation rate was 65.7%, according to the BLS. The September 2012 rate, as reported Friday, was 63.6%, an increase from the month before.

Those who are employed, Romney said, are "having tough times."

"The middle class is being squeezed with higher and higher costs and with incomes that have gone down by $4,300 a family," he said. "This can't go on. I'll tell you this, when I'm president of the United States, that unemployment rate is going to come down not because people are giving up and dropping out of the workface but because we're creating more jobs. I will create jobs and get America working again."

His message in Virginia's coal country echoed the paper statement he released after the Friday morning numbers came out. In that statement, he said, "this is not what a real recovery looks like" and pointed in particular to employment in the manufacturing sector.

In a statement Friday, Romney also said the numbers revealed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics weren't good enough.

"This is not what a real recovery looks like," Romney wrote. "We created fewer jobs in September than in August, and fewer jobs in August than in July, and we've lost over 600,000 manufacturing jobs since President Obama took office."

Friday's report showed revisions to the last two months of jobs data, indicating 181,000 jobs were created in July and 142,000 were created in August.

With Ryan by his side, Romney rallies Virginians in debate victory lap

Romney noted in his statement that a "real unemployment rate" which included Americans who have dropped out of the labor force would be higher, saying "The results of President Obama's failed policies are staggering – 23 million Americans struggling for work, nearly one in six living in poverty and 47 million people dependent on food stamps to feed themselves and their families."

Romney has been consistent in criticizing Obama for policies he said have made it harder for Americans to find jobs, and a consistent point in his stump speech and in interviews has been an unemployment rate unable to slip below 8%.

Romney used the figure in his closing statement at Wednesday's presidential debate, saying in a second Obama term high unemployment would prevail.

"There's no question in my mind that if the president were to be reelected you'll continue to see a middle-class squeeze with incomes going down and prices going up," Romney said, adding: "You'll see chronic unemployment. We've had 43 straight months with unemployment above 8%."

In his statement Friday, House Speaker John Boehner pointed to another bar for unemployment, writing the White House "said unemployment would be as low as 5.6% by now if Congress passed their 'stimulus' spending bill – instead, after four years of spending, taxing, and red tape, millions of Americans remain jobless, underemployed, or have simply given up looking for work."

Boehner, who acknowledged some "positive news" in the September report, said the 7.8% rate still was too high.

"Middle class families deserve better than perpetually high unemployment," he wrote.

Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, also pointed to a lower unemployment rate as a bar for success, writing "High unemployment remains a chronic condition in America, the seriousness of which is measured not simply by one number but by the millions of families trying to make ends meet in an impossible economy."


Filed under: 2012 • Jobs • Mitt Romney
soundoff (1,050 Responses)
  1. Maria

    It is amazing Obama got this done without the help of Repukes in Congress, clean up Congress and we will be rocking and rolling

    October 5, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  2. Clouds9

    Slam dunk for the dream team!!

    Obama! Biden! Hillary! and Bill!

    October 5, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  3. JEAN BROWN

    THANK YOU, PRESIDENT OBAMA. MY TWO DAUGHTERS ARE NOW EMPLOYED, AFTER TWO YEARS. GOD BLESS YOU PRESIDENT OBAMA. I AM SUPPORTING YOU 100%. WE ARE IN THE 47% MR. ROMNEY HAS FORGOTTEN ABOUT,

    October 5, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  4. SmallCoOwner

    In my prior comment about the price of gas, I omitted an important clarification and I mispelled rhetoric (for which I'll likely be castigated).

    The important clarification: The US avg price of regular gas for the week ending Jan. 19, 2009 was $1.832. Obama took office the next day. In fact, the price has been even lower hitting $1.59 for the week ending Dec. 29, 2008, a 4.5 year low. However, between May 7, 2007 and Oct. 27, 2009, the price of gas ranged from a low of $2.59 to a high of $4.06, averaging $3.25for that 78 week period. Starting in late October 2008, gas prices plummeted starting their slow but steady and unmitigated rise to the current level.

    You can draw your own conclusions for that anomaly in the weeks preceding the Nov 2008 national election. I don't believe in conspiracies, I believe in data. That data is anomalous.

    However, my own conclusion is that the fact used agains Obama that the price gas has doubled since he tool office is based on anomalous data and therefore not a correct conclusion.

    October 5, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  5. Jerome Horowitz

    Obama cures cancer – Romney says it's not enough
    Obama brings peace to the Middle East – Romney says it's not enough
    Obama perfects the electric car – Romney says it's not enough
    And on and on.......

    October 5, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  6. echolady

    the unemployement numbers can be spun anyway anyone would like them. I was laid off (again) last Friday and today paid $4.81/gal of gas. Many colleagues I know throughout the US are in a similar situation. He surely doesn't feel like things are improving.

    Is anyone as concerned as I am that our current administration lied to all of us about Libya? The media purported the "lie" by reporting for 2 weeks that it should be blamed on a video. In my opinion, the media can not be trusted.

    October 5, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  7. TED

    ROMNEY NEEDS TO BLAME BUSH AND THE REPUBLICANS SINCE BUSH POLICIES ARE STILL IN PLAY.

    HE COULD GET MY VOTE . IF HE JUST SPOKE THE TRUTH.

    6 YEARS PEOPLE ! THAT IS HOW LONG IT TAKES TO PUSH POLICIES INTO OUR SYSTEM.

    October 5, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. jinx88

    This is coming from the party of "no"? What a POS he and the rest of Repug party!!!

    October 5, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. womenfly

    Thousands of Aerospace workers will be entering the unemployment line come January 2013.

    BUT the ones slated for layoff won’t be notified with a 60-day advance notice as instructed in the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. On January 1, less than 3 months from today, the infamous sequestration measures and “fiscal cliff” created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 are scheduled to take effect. That sequestration includes massive across-the-board cuts to our national defense budget, which in turn means that private defense industry employers face the likelihood of sudden funding stoppage and consequent mass layoffs. Lockheed-Martin announced 100,000 employees are in jeopardy of a sudden layoff, and Northrop-Grumman and EADS reacted similarly. The administration said they would pay back to the companies any fines they incurred for not following the WARN Act. Who's $$$ will be paying for this? YOURS.

    NOTE: A January 1 layoff would trigger the law’s 60-day warning notice which would mean in early November employee’s should be notified, just a few days before election day. Also note the primarily affected swing state of Virginia, which the Pentagon and enormous portions of the defense industry are locate, and Ohio and Florida.

    October 5, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  10. Warp0

    Obama should ask Romney to bend over so he can "fetch" the 12 million jobs where Romney hides them.

    October 5, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  11. Chico

    I THINK MITT ROMNEY NEEDS TO TAKE PSYCHOTROPIC MEDICATION TO MANAGE HIS MANIC EPISODES.

    October 5, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Can you imagine if we went back to the policies of George Bush?
    –But even more extreme than before!
    That's what Romney is promising.
    Does anyone remember what it was like 4 years ago? I do.

    October 5, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  13. JimmySparklenuts

    The unemployment percentage could be 1% and Romney would still be crying.

    October 5, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  14. TonyK

    CNN DO YOUR JOB! Call out Romney lies! His health plan DOES NOT cover pre-existing conditions. The deficit has nowhere near doubled during Obama's tenure. Romney has touted a nearly 5 T tax break favoring the wealthy. Obama's Green Jobs initiative did not see 90% go under (it was arounf 25%, this failure rate was slightly BETTER than the overall failure rate for ANY new business in America–which is somewhere around 35%) NEWS GUYS, YOU ARE NOT DOING YOUR JOBS!

    October 5, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. philberto

    CNN is the most blatantly liberal, biased station on TV. I will concede that FOX is blatantly conservative.
    I long for the days where anchors tried to be non-biased. it may not be obvious to CNN, but you wreak of liberal favoritism.
    CNN: If you want to know how to gain your preeminence in the cable news arena back, follows my advice: Get rid of the "opinions" and be fair. Larry King is the best example of this. He interviewed people and rarely showed favoritism All your anchors are completely liberal and it is how's throug. All the partisan news organizations make me sick. I want the news to be presented fair and balanced. Both CNN and FOX are no such thing.

    October 5, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  16. versus24

    Mitt Romney is a desperate loser

    October 5, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  17. JMHand

    Just had to point this out, Ronald Reagan (the original master of B.S.) had an unemployment rate of 7.5% when he won in 1984. Republicans really crack me up.

    October 5, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  18. mirrorview

    HEY Obama bums face it your guy saved car jobs because he took money that should not be used for saving Union jobs. Business 101 A. manage your debt to income ratio,and B. reduce cost by eliminating expenses.C. provide a product with value and dependibility. Hmmmmmm don't see US cars beating out Forgein autos and look at CEO's for most companies I don't see Cadillac or Chevy in their driveways!

    October 5, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  19. independent

    lets add all of the companies MITT has shut down, the number of workers that he put out of work and subtract it from the unemployment number and see how much damage he did to the economy.

    October 5, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  20. offreservation

    Just in Romney leads Obama in Fla. by 2% and Virginia 1% , lags in Ohio by1, this game is all tied up.

    October 5, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  21. RichardSRussell

    Is unemployment still too high? Sure it is. But whom do we have to thank for that? The president introduced a comprehensive jobs bill and implored Congress to enact it "right away". The GOP-dominated House utterly ignored it, preferring to vote *33 times* to repeal Obamacare, evidently figuring that a bad economy and jobless Americans was the price they were willing to have *other* people pay to make Obama look bad.

    October 5, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  22. philberto

    CNN is the most blatantly liberal, biased station on TV. I will concede that FOX is blatantly conservative AND biased as well.
    I long for the days where anchors tried to be non-biased. it may not be obvious to CNN, but you wreak of liberal favoritism.

    CNN: If you want to know how to gain your preeminence in the cable news arena back, follows my advice: Get rid of the "opinions" and be fair. Larry King is the best example of this. He interviewed people and rarely showed favoritism. All your anchors are completely liberal and it is show's through. All the partisan news organizations make me sick. I want the news to be presented fair and balanced. Both CNN and FOX are no such thing.

    October 5, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  23. JD

    This is EXCELLENT news despite what Mr. 47% says. The right wants to make everything sound SO bad but things have improved since 2008 and that's a fact! The fact that Romney says "not enough" is just sour grapes.

    October 5, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  24. Chief

    Sara, we don't want that number to grow we want it to shrink.

    October 5, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  25. Country Concerned

    Worked with a lot of number crunchers over the years and the basic question is always asked, what do you want the final result to look like????? Typical final stretch politcal rhetoric.

    October 5, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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