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.
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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."
Obama is trying to bring back all the jobs Romney sent to China.
'Not good enough' ... oh, there's a surprise. For a gang that has done nothing but criticize, block and otherwise obstruct nearly every attempt to accomplish something, the Republicans seem to be united in only the very narrow cause of protecting the wealthy and getting rid of Obama. Their king has no clothes.
BTW, let me break this down for the conpiracy-inclined out there: your conspracy theories are an admission that the numbers are GOOD.
Enjoy your crow.
Obama is not perfect, but at least kind of honest and decent. This guy Robme is just disguising. You can't trust anything spewed out of his mouth: when the 47% came out first last month, he said firmly stood by it, now he flipped to he was completely wrong about that!
Sad that CNN can't acknowledge that the 7.8% number is 'smoke and mirrors'. The number doesn't include under-employed (since most of the September jobs are part-time) OR those that were kicked out of the system..... those that are no longer in the workforce.
Romney won that debate no question. what he did not win is my vote
If ROmeny was president it would lot worst,intead of lay offs. ROmeny would fire you Azz and not give you any food stamps to eat. And you people might call it Flip Fop- I call it Lair, and for some of you stupid people that would belive this crap, something is terrible wrong with you.
This will seal the deal, the debate means nothing. Romney is nothing but lies, and for him to consider himself a religious man he appears now to tell lies so much that you can't trust him. Unemployment rate is down, Obama is a job creator, what else can they say? nothing, Grats to Obama because you will win where it matters, in Novemeber.
If you one of the thousands that have been unemployed on food stamps for months/years it never enough. How many of those NEW jobs are Part Time? When it come to JOBS it is never enough no matter who is in office.
You must be kidding. Not enough? Come on Romney, get over it. It is huge and you know it. You are disappointed that it appears the economy might be on a comeback.
Sorry Romney and the Republicans. I know you were looking forward to a bad report.
Romney has magic underwear that will turn the economy to 0% unemployment when he gets into office..you just got to trust him on that.
wow, the Dems are back on the blog.. yesterday they spent time taking notes on how to spin the debate results. It's funny when Mr. Obama accuses Romney of dishonesty in debate. Same guy who said 4 years ago that Bill Clinton was racist.
No doubt, Romney was the best performer in Wednesdays debate--emphasis on ‘performer’; focusing primarily on generalities and dancing upon the periphery of a majority of the issues.
Although there was little if any substance in anything he said--he sure did sound good!
Could have sold a glass of saltwater to a sailor marooned at sea, which is analogous to his and Ryan’s prescription for a floundering economy and struggling middle class!
I hope those watching and listening realize this and know that looking and sounding good doesn’t necessarily make for the best policy!
I’m not looking for a president who is the best debater but one who is honest, deliberate, thoughtful and decisive and who wants what’s best for ‘all Americans‘. These are qualities that Obama has and Romney doesn’t!
The least they Repubs & Robme could do is to be greatful for the fall of unemployment. No matter the numbers, these figures represent real people and this means a lot to these people that now have jobs. I know what it is like not to have a job when you have good qualifications and applied millions of times. I am grateful that I had a job during this President Obama's administration. GOP may snob the numbers, but for those of us who benefitted, it is a big deal. Oh, I forgot, they dont care about the 47%!
...and all of a sudden, the last debate is forgotten.
Good job Mr. President for fighting for what is right
Good job Small Business for believing in America and hiring and keeping jobs here
Good job the 99%
– for fighting for America (Military)
– for teaching America (Teachers)
– for keeping America safe (Police and Fire Department)
– for creating some balance against corporate greed and power (Unions)
– for hanging in there
Good job the 47% + 4% for making sure that someone whose sole goal is to serve the 1% never makes it to the Oval Office because he is comfortable lieing in front of the whole country.
Somebody's got to stick it to Romney for keeping saying "This is not what a real recovery looks like." He's thinking of past, "normal" recoveries, but this one is anything but. The public sector not hiring and not part of a "normal" recovery. The private sector is producing the same value of goods and services as before the recession, *with 5 million fewer workers.* That's the problem; those workers are not waiting to "recover" their jobs. New industries need to be created to create new jobs, and that is why government investment in infrastructure and research is more important now than ever.
Oh oh.......did you hear that hissing sound? That's the steam coming out of Romney's kettle.
Romney was really hoping for an 8.3% and rising. He woke up to bad news this morning.
You need at least 150K jobs created just to keep pace with those entering the workforce. Where is the good news? does this one statistic from 8.1% to 7.8% suddenly make you all feel things are improving? Nothing changes, we still have the president we had on Wednesday night.
Folks, don't gullible. The Romney we saw in the debate is not the same Romney we saw during the primary. I don't care if he is Republican or Democrat, but a person's integrity and truthfulness should be one of the most important traits of a President. I don't like this slick salesman quality he exhibits during the debate, especially when this salesman is not showing me the fine-prints.
I would rather go with a known than an unknown situation. Under President Obama, the unemployment rate has been dropping the last few months so we are in recovery. If we vote for Mitt Romney, he will make a lot of drastic changes which would only create more instability for our country and the job market.
Wow. And just think if the Bagger Party had not been so willing to destroy our economy to make Obama look bad and achieve their "one and done" creedo--We might be down around 6%.
Throw every last Bagger out (there is no longer a republican party). Clip their wings so these buzzards can never fly again. GO OBAMA!!!
Did all of you geniuses really hear Romney lie in the debate or are you just parroting Obama rhetoric?
now its below bush, what does that say about bush? romney is just GWB 2.0