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. macbil

    If the unemployment rate went down to 5% and 500,000 jobs were added in September Romney would still say it wasn't enough. He will say anything to get elected. Who can trust this guy?

    October 5, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  2. Penny Wright

    We have just had the fastest drop in unemployment since 1984....from 10.2% to 7.8%%. All this in spite of the fact that House Republicans have blocked infrastructure spending bills that would have helped. Why? Because Republicans are more concerned with winning the election than helping America.

    October 5, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  3. Evangelical like liars?

    Funny how all of those hard-core Evangelicals we saw from the Tea party have nothing to say about the dishonesty of the Romney/Ryan campaign. Both candidates are pathological liars and neither seems to have any actual compassion for the poor. One would assume if Evangelical Christians were prepared to vote for a Mormon, a religious cult who believes other Christians will not ascend to Heaven, they would at least expect that person to behave honorably and support the poor. Since Jesus is now a minor player I guess it's more about WWJSD (What Would Joseph Smith Do)...

    October 5, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  4. al

    Not enough? Unemployment is trending down...recovering from a major economic crisis takes years. Americans want immediacy in everything. Everything is a quick fix. What a sad mentality.

    October 5, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  5. Proud Independent !

    Oh Oh Romney , It looks like your arguments are false ! Romney hates to hear good news about the economy because it makes all his doom and gloom nonsense false !

    October 5, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  6. Ancient Texan

    7.8%..yeah, right. And the one in November, just in time for the election will read 0% unemployed. Can you say "cooked books"?

    October 5, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  7. CitizenJP

    Governer, certainly it is not enough! The President knows it is not enough. But thanks to this President's policies unemployment created by Bush policies has come down from over 10 percent and a threatening 12 percent down to 7.8 percent. His policies are working and they are working big for the middle class. The rich is doing fine. Your policies to give 5 trillion tax cut to the rich will end us up in a bigger mess than President Bush – no doubt about it. It has been already tested.

    October 5, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  8. Thrivi

    Romney political agenda: Lies and more lies to accomplish his greed. How many jobs are created here in the US with all his tax breaks. Now Paul Ryan, a poster boy for lies, has joined him.

    October 5, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  9. carrie

    Mmmmmm, well nothing would be enough for Mitt, not enoch money for the rich , not enough lies in this election !

    For me there is not enough jello molds to hold all the differnent positions this man takes to whatever audiuence he is targeting. Now he is completely wrong about the 47%, but if we buy that particular jello mold we should be ashamed! He never takes the same position twice . But if he was ever telling the truth it was when he was talking to millionaires. This man won the debate by using again different positions than what he was saying on the campaign trail , a master at usling the truth very recklessly! He is shifts his opinion like the desert sands.
    Why would I want him to be my president!

    October 5, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  10. a disgrace but you voted for him

    coming a day after romney made a fool out of obama in front of the whole country no one is buying these job numbers!

    October 5, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  11. Ronen

    Poor Mitt. He get a break after the debate following several impossible weeks, and now someone pulls the rug under him. You got to feel a little sorry for they guy. No more than 5 seconds worth, but still.

    October 5, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  12. Kef14

    It's called improvement Mitt. Something your buddies only did the opposite of during the last 8 years you had a president in office.

    October 5, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  13. Corey

    Romney and the Republicans are rooting for a high unemployment rate. You really think they care about your job? They want as many people as possible to be unemployed so that Obama looks bad. It is all about getting into office.

    October 5, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  14. BLUE 02138

    Mitt, Big Bird wants an apology. NOW !!!

    October 5, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  15. John

    You Obama Trolls were funny for a while.. But now you are down right scary... How does the employment % drop when only 114,000 new jobs are added, but it takes 200k just to keep up with population growth?? Its because more and more people are leaving the labor force.. So fed up they can't find a job they didn't even look last month... There are less people in the labor force now then there were in January 2009 when Obama took office. This isn't good news.. But the liberal media and Obama trolls will continue to claim it is... sigh... this country is going down the drain....

    October 5, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  16. Deez

    Imagine if Romney actually was happy that the unemployment rate was going down. As he should be, right?! But he can't, since he is merely trying to make Obama look bad. Realize that. Obama 2012

    October 5, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  17. Sniffit

    Conspiracy theories = the GOP/Teatrolls' gag reflex when served A HEAPING HELPING OF CROW.

    Grow up, you pantwetters.

    October 5, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  18. tstorm92

    Romney ought to know all about the economy since it was his party, the Republicans, who destroyed it! And his party, the Republicans in congress, who refuse to pass even a single jobs bill! Romney, you suck.

    October 5, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  19. freelance

    Romney should keep blasting Obama on economy.

    October 5, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  20. rosco

    Tuesday pres takes a whooping
    Thursday unemp filing goes up
    Friday B.S. report from Obammy (more lies) now unemp is down???? How can you buy into this crap??

    Weekly applications increased last week by 4,000 from the previous week's level of 363,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The previous week was revised higher from an initial reading of 359,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, was unchanged at 375,000.

    October 5, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  21. Thomas

    "And the one in November, just in time for the election will read 0% unemployed."

    Yes, the labor statistics bureau is cooking the books. I mean now they are instead of when you liked the higher unemployment.

    October 5, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  22. TomCom

    "Not Enough"! That's because he cares now about the 47% today. He didn't worry about them 2 weeks ago

    October 5, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  23. Mr.Kennedy

    so let me get this right it was @ 8.1 then dropped to 7.8 but it’s not enough look I’m going to be blunt we as Americans want everything done fast and quick but we can't have our cake and eat it to just think about it took 8 years from 2000 until 2008 to get in this big economic meltdown in which POTUS which when in office we as losing 800.000 plus jobs a month in 2009 and we didn't get into this quick so we won't get out of it as fast when we was losing jobs during the last administration think about of the people who didn't have jobs at the time if you think about that then where would the rate had been at that time if you counted them?????? but we are showing signs of improving with those who are still busting their butts to get jobs and not dropping out we will always have two figures where one shows a rate where people who are looking for jobs and another one with people who stop looking so the balance will never eeeeever be even. once again the American people defined the odds I bet most of you all who read this was probably thinking @ the time before the reports that it wouldn't fall below 8% well when there's hope there's a way and it looks like there's people believe in hope and change I’m proud of that number as of right now oh and fyi we lost 4 million plus jobs at the time Obama took office and now we gained them jobs back plus some. so back to square one where we was 4years ago but instead of losing jobs were gaining jobs little is better than nothing be grateful people and with those who gaining jobs and as the rate drops those who stopped slowly will be looking againg and as long as we adding jobs then we got a shot. oh and have you wondered and this is some food for thought what if some of those who stopped looking was the ones who got jobs? Ever thought about that. I'm Just Saying People

    October 5, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  24. slow beats no plan at all

    The economy was in a downward spiral before. We had negative job growth, we now are recovering slowly. He came in with that problem and now we have a positive rate of job creation. Why would we go back to the policies of Bush tax cuts? Like it's going to work this time. OK Mr. Romney what would you do differently. "Umm well that's a lengthy answer..." Honestly at least explain what you would do differently. Just saying we have to cut the deficiet sounds nice but there's no HOW. I don't like either of em but at least these policies are working slowly. I'll take a slow recovery over the same basic ideas that gave us these problems.

    October 5, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  25. ga.democrat

    Of course Romney says it's not enough. Sorry to rain on your parade Romney. The employment rate is below 8%, the housing market is coming back, and the stock market is doing well. President Obama is digging us out of the hole dug by Bush and company. Just think where we could be had it not been for the obstructionists Republicans in congress lead by Lyin Ryan. Why in the world would we want to hand our country back to the ones that got us into this mess? Romney is so desperate to get into the White House, he'll do and say anything. To say he is now for the middle class is laughable. We know his true feelings about the 47%. The man has absolutely no integrity and is counting on the unintelligent to believe his lies and misrepresentations.

    October 5, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
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