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.

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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. Lynda/Minnesota

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

    Oops. Even Mr. Boehner acknowledged these numbers as being positive. John-Boy must not have gotten the memo from FOX News calling these numbers "cooked". No doubt he'll soon "clarify" his comment.

    October 5, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  2. bob

    Ha ha, it's going the wrong way for Romney the job killer to be satisfied. When he told Lehr he was cutting off funding for PBS and going after big bird, he was already laying off two people!

    October 5, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  3. JM

    Obama talking tough again, after the Debate must have his Teleprompter back. ROMNEY/RYAN 2012

    October 5, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  4. Karm99

    I think I hear a seeping sound from the Romney party balloon..........

    Unemployment drops to 7.8%
    24 straight months of job creation
    14 straight quarters of economic growth
    Home prices up
    Foreclosures down
    Inflation at only 1.7%
    Stock Market has doubled
    Industrial Production Index at 96.8

    As everyone has said, this election will be about the Economy, and Obama wins.

    October 5, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  5. avoiceinthewilderness

    So here we have it... one of the 47% who got off their bottom to go to work... but the Mitter still says it's not enough? It could have fallen to 0%, and the Mitt would have still said, "Not enough!" Come on already!

    October 5, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  6. Anonymous

    “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.”

    How many million manufacturing jobs were lost (exported) under Bush? Also, tax cuts have been in place for 12 years, where are those jobs Mitt? Last time I took an economics course, increased demand for products, and supplying that demand creates jobs. I can see it now, Joe Business "My taxes went down, I think I will hire 5 more people." In reality it is, I need more product, I better increase production which = more jobs. Bring those jobs back from overseas, that is the key.

    October 5, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  7. john

    The latest polls after the debate show that independents, the folks listening for content, moved toward Obama by about 7%. This is with most folks thinking that Romney may have won the debate. Whereas, Republican thought better of ROmney.

    I think it is clear that Romney needs to show his and and discuss specifics. If you recall, Romney was very confusing the first 15 minutes of the debate. At one point he even contradicted his tax of reducing taxes for the wealthy. Also, later in the debate he mentioned several numbers to limit deductions (e.g., a limit of 25,000). It was clear he had not thought about what needed to get dome. Amazing.

    Maybe republicans will start to see the light. Their budget and policies are not very popular.

    October 5, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  8. C Davis

    “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.”

    How many million manufacturing jobs were lost (exported) under Bush? Also, tax cuts have been in place for 12 years, where are those jobs Mitt? Last time I took an economics course, increased demand for products, and supplying that demand creates jobs. I can see it now, Joe Business "My taxes went down, I think I will hire 5 more people." In reality it is, I need more product, I better increase production which = more jobs. Bring those jobs back from overseas, that is the key.

    October 5, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  9. the situation

    Is it me but it took the Rethugs sometime to bring out there statements this morning. Had unemployment rate went up and the media state bad news, they would be jumping like the opportunist they are and would be blasting the president. The Rethugs and their policies with their WH, Senate and Congress set in motion why America was on the bring of collapse. This President with his team steer away America from being destroy but saving them, all the time the Grand Obstruction Party and their top leaders, including Cantor and Lying Ryan tried everything within their power to halt any chance of growth, getting America back to work. They played with job creation for their own agenda because they didn't want to have the President have any success. That to me sound Un American. Now their agenda, in the final days look have finally backfire on them.

    October 5, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  10. Samn

    Yesterday belong to Romney for his etch-a-sketch debate victory. Today belongs to Obama. Get over it GOP.

    October 5, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  11. Sandy

    No, the only thing that will be enough for Mittens is creating a slave race out of the vast majority of Americans to serve himself and his elite, white, male cronies. If you're ready to go back to the Middle Ages and have an Overlord in President's clothing, vote for Mittens.

    October 5, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  12. Alger Dave

    Realistically, the way they calculate this figure is almost meaningless. The unemployment rate goes down when people stop looking for jobs too, and that's undoubtedly what's happening right now as well – we know this has happened in most months previous – works are so discouraged the drop out of seeking a job and then are no longer counted as unemployed because they're not actively seeking work. How does that make sense? And none of this factors in the fact that people are making much less today than before the recession started, and that many 'employed' are under-employed – the statistics of which appears to be about 10-15% of the population. It's staggering and proves that Obama's policies have largely failed the country.

    October 5, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  13. jan

    I didnt belive the numbers before, I dont believe them now,

    October 5, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  14. Bryan

    How can you say "Obama's failed policies"? I'm sorry but 4 years ago we were LOSING jobs at 700K a month; 10% unemployment. Now we're adding jobs, even if it isn't 300K a month, WE'RE STILL ADDING JOBS and the unemployment rate has dropped. If I'm a coach drawing up plays for my team who is down by 20 but by halftime, and we score enough to be down only by 10 then SOMETHING IS WORKING. The employment in this country is going up; fast, slow, steady...ITS STILL GOING UP. That's NOT failed policies because when policies fail THERE IS NO PROGRESS!

    October 5, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  15. Franky

    Romney lost all credibility on WEdnesday, he's not allowed to talk.

    October 5, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  16. myviewis

    So many of you are saying that 7.8% gets us back to where we were with unemployment when Obama took office which means Obama (if the numbers have not been tampered with) has not created jobs, Obama only gained us back the jobs that had been lost. We are back to square one but nothing new of his own creation.

    October 5, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  17. suni

    Give another 4 Years to POPEOBAMA and in the 4th year you will still hear him blame previous administration for failed Economy and everything that else that is to wrong in the next 4 years – that is 100% truth with this loser.
    get used to this crap America or Save the White House.

    October 5, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  18. nocas

    republicans are never happy when good things for americans happen....they would be thrilled if the unemployment job rate was higher....haters, why do you hate so much americans??!! The repubs that write here must be either rish or stupid, honestly!! Republicans suppress the jobc act in order to keep the rates high so they can try take Obama out of office, they do not care about the people, they care about themselves, money, money, money. For the repubs that write here, how many of you aren't in the 47%? I bet all of you are!!

    October 5, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  19. suni

    Give another 4 Years to POPEOBAMA and in the 4th year you will still hear him blame previous administration for failed Economy and everything else that is to wrong in the next 4 years – that is 100% truth with this loser.
    get used to this crap America or Save the White House.

    October 5, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  20. CNNuthin

    "Obama may be doing something right, and things may be improving...but..um...I promise you that in within 1 month of my first term we will have a negative unemployment rate. That's right. No only with everyone have a job, but even those not counted, like children, will have jobs."

    October 5, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  21. Yeahona

    Of course it isn't good enough for Romney. Obama could do absolutely nothing to please these tea party/right wing/change their position – people. They just despise the President so much they want him and the country to fail so they can get power. How sad!

    October 5, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  22. kaparrishinatl

    Simple arithmetic Willard and fellow GOP! Something you fail to understand.

    October 5, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  23. Darrell

    Okay...what was he supposed to say? 'Great! I guess I was wrong. There is some improvement taking place.' I mean this isn't headline stuff really. He is going to say whatever helps him. But the facts are the facts no matter how he wishes to paint it. It wouldn't have mattered what the report contained. We would have heard the same thing or something that slanders regardless.

    October 5, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  24. Dennis

    Romney, and his cronies have to eat crow. Housing Up, Unemployment Down, Ombama Polls Up. What more can be said, than would you like ketchup with that crow!!!!!!!!!

    October 5, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  25. manhandler

    The Right never likes good news for America if it means good news for Obama. They would rather see the economy go into total collapse than to see Obama re-elected. Disgraceful!

    October 5, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
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