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."
everyone knows the numbers are cooked. Who is he fooling?
Someone needs to explain to me why everybody is so infatuated with Obama...................I absolutely don't get it............ the guy has done NOTHING for this country except tear it apart at the seams.............. I'm perplexed on the cult following that he has and how many people want this country to implode!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hey WIillard, i love when you say that not enough try tell (47%) someone who is about to lose there house, car, or do not know where the next meal come from that not enough remember accoding to you we need to take care of self. You will never be the President you are a liar and you need to read what the bilble say about greed because you have damm show live it. Go back to one of your manys homes because you don't have a damm clue what the 47% live like hell i just wonder have you ever started a lawnmover better yet cut some grass. OO that right you got someone to do that for ya too.. OHIO VOTER 4 OBAMA/BIDEN you want take of state Hell to the NO!!
The Labor Department said 114,000 jobs were added in September but the unemployment rate itself is based on a separate "household survey," which showed 873,000 new jobs in September. Huh? 114k vs 873k???? no manipulation here.
I pray that there are still as many intelligent people today as there were in November 2008. Re-elect President Obama and you will sleep better at night knowing that your President keeps and spends his earned dollars in the USA and not in Switzerland.
Anyone else finD (self edit)
Only suckers believe these numbers. They don't include the millions who gave up, were kicked off the dole or were forced to work at MacDonald's.
guys need to look at the big picture MIT wants to close loop holes and increase spending. And to back up his spending he want to cut programs that aren't working which means jobs which means more unemployed. While Obama is limited to what the republican congress will allow him to do Obama you need balls to run this country and the debate showed us you have none.
How timely......how convenient.....how are some of you people so gullible...or maybe you are just trying to feel better. Turn it around and imagine if this sudden happy news was reported by a Republican president. What would you be saying now?
No matter how good the news is, the GOP will claim it's a disaster. And what would those numbers look like now had Romney won the nomination and election in 2008? It frightens me to consider it.
So when Obama's lowest unemployment rate matches Bush's highest unemployment rate, Romney loses because he can't attack Obama on unemployment? Really?
Has anyone considered that there are approximately 500,000 jobs in the US, mostly Manufacturing jobs that are going UNFILLED. And why, because people need the training to do the work. And who is the one blocking them from getting the education. You got it, Flip Romney and his republican cohorts.
strike one – the debate
strike two – fudging the jobs report
strike three – letting Biden speak
seriously, we are going to let Biden open his mouth in a debate against Ryan
What a crock! Look what's behind the numbers .... only days ago the news media was reporting how business have already been hiring seasonal part-time workers for the holidays. Plus factor in those who are no longer looking for work. Perhaps Obama knew this would be the news the other night and it's why he could care less about his debate performance. He figured the fix is in. Fool us once, shame on you.... but we won't be fooled again!
The economy is getting better and I knew it would. There are more people spending money because they have jobs. For those of you that are young this is a cycle thing that always gets better. Can anyone tell us why people left the workforce? Did they retire as the thousands of baby boomers did that reach retirement age everyday, return to school, or God Bless them die.
I wish Mittens would keep his mouth shut. So tired of hearing al the lies thar come out of his mouth. It is just plain sicking.
Mitt comes across like a little kid who says anything just to be liked. Boy! He flips and flops more than a small fish out of water! No way I could see him or his sidekick leading this country.
I haven't had the jobs rate below 8%, so what do I need to do...well let's work to grant 1.8 million illegal aliens work permits....job rate goes down....FORWARD!!!
Moving forward its 7.8% thats what it was when he took office and he called that the Great Depression back then. 114.thousand new jobs brought this down to 7.8 how is that possible when 140 last month just brought it down to 8.1. Very strange numbers all of a sudden.
Romney is partially correct...the employment gains under Obama haven't offset the losses caused by Bain...
You know on one hand a 24 month growth in jobs and employment, where we finally get below 8% does sound good (and in fact is good), we do need more jobs though. However, when the GOP spends four years fighting the President of the Uited States, and fails to pass even one solitary jobs bill (even for veterans!), this is what we get- a slow recovery. Remember that on Nov. 6. The GOP has hurt America!
Liberals inability to do simple math makes for some very entertaining reading.
What a coincidence. Just before Prez election. Anyone believe this? I sure do not! Another ploy to make the current Prez look good?
Obama is as slimy as they come. After 39 months of 8%+ unemployment, conveniently, one month before the election and with Obama on the ropes, the rate is suddenly at 7.8%. Please! If you believe this to be true than you are more stupid than Obama looked at the debate.