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."
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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.
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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."
US added only 114,000 is Sept but added 142,000 in Aug. How is it that the unemployment rate fell?
The GOP are like arsonists telling the fire department they are not putting out the fire they started fast enough and want to start new ones.
Actually Mittens, it is pretty damn good considering the 4 years of republican obstruction in the house and senate. In that the rate has dropped without a single republican vote says a lot about our president and democrats doing the right thing and caring for our country.
the unemployment rate could be zero (which is impossible) andrepublicans would still be complaining.
So the best Obama can do after 4 years is a hefty 7.8% unemployent rate? That's still way too high. Get Obama and his party out of the way and we can do better than this.
Another attack-line removed from Romney's lexicon. How many did Mitt helped in "business deals"? Who went to China to invest in a plant? hint: it wasn't the president.
Thanks senator mitch MCconnell for the log jam of not passing the jobs bill,you are hurting the middleclass republicans,how can you face the very people in your home state of kentucky????????????
You can't force companies to hire people, no matter what you do to the tax situation!!
All the big companies that laid off thousands during the last few years have discovered that you can get the same amount of work done with fewer people as long as the THREAT of layoffs exists.....that adds to their profitability, and they like that. No one works harder than an employee under threat of a layoff.
Besides, weren't quite a few Republicans elected in 2010 by using the promise of job creation? How has THAT worked out???
Anyone who believes this number is a fool! We have, by percentage, fewer working age people employed than ever. To think that the Obama camp claims Romney is a liar!
Breaking news! Robme is now a liberal. Check back for the latest updates when Robme flip-flops again.
He'd say the same thing if it was 0%.
Wow! The more I see him, the more I hear him, the more determined I am to vote the other party and for the president.
If 7.8 is truly, then seem that Romney and the Republicans won't accept it the fact. Too bad for them. They keep attacking Obama all the time. I am sure all of their shoes in their mouths. They should be carefully what they said.
Of course Romney chooses negativity again instead of the steady, positive recovery for our country under Pres. Obama.
Mitt: I will take up your cry! It's not enough and we need more unemployed to force the socialist out of office! As of today I'm going to intentionally get fired and go on unemployment to keep putting pressure on that awful man and get ROMNEY in office!!!!
What else could the severely conservative chicken hawk head of birtherism say? Did anyone expect him to admit that he is a liar, clueless, a tax evader, a jobs outsourcer, a failed governor of MA, who cares only about the wealthy?
Romney would say it's not enough if unemployment dropped to 5%. It's the only issue he has he can negatively campaign on. Of course, later he can always come back saying he made a mistake...
It isn't enough. There is no possibly way for unemployment to fall .3% with only 114,000 jobs created. Think about it! The number of people that had to take part time jobs skyrocketed by over 500,000. That is the reason for the drop in unemployment rate.
There are still too many people that are unemployed and underemployed, which is just as devastating.
Obama got the unemployment rate under 8% WITHOUT any help from the Republicans. Just think what it would be like if the party of NO worked with the President. BTW, it will even get better because next month we begin hiring for the holiday season. We are on the road to recovery. Let's "stay the course" to steal a phrase from Bush.
It makes no difference if rate was 3.1% the Repubs would find something wrong with it, They are so full of it it's pathetic.
Uh oh, bad news for repubs. Wait and see how they, the repubs spin this.
amazing that after getting mitt slapped, Obama's labor department comes out with good numbers, simply amazing.
Romney would have criticized the unemployment rate if it fell to 5 percent. He is just upset because it isn't in his favor heading into November 6. The things this man says makes him look like a total joke for a presidential candidate......
7.8% was EXACTLY where it was when he took office EXCEPT we were bleeding jobs at a rate of almost 800,000 jobs per month. Now we're gaining jobs, slowly, but surely and Obama has gotten us back to that same rate. He pulled our fat out of the fryer and nothing could possible make the GOP/Teatrolls angrier. But hey....THE NUMBERS DON'T LIE.
Romney ....... No honesty No integrity