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.
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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."
who believes Romney anymore... Obama 2012
"The unemployment rate now stands where it did in 2009, when Obama took office."
Romneyhood ........ Give to the Rich take from the poor
Romney and Ryan ......... Laurel and Hardy of the 2012 Presidential Campaign
Well I think this is huge news. Only Romney would put a negative spin on the best unemployment numbers we've seen in years. Slow and steady is how we will get out of this massive recession. It took years of poor leadership to get us into this mess, it will take years of steady, smart leadership to get us out.
romney makes up his own numbers. Just like in the debate.He now says he was wrong about the 47% ? This guy will do or say anything to get elected. He is a bully and a lying snake oil salesman. Forward/
You just have to laugh when something like this is said. Something good for the country is bad for the contender.
And these numbers despite the Senate minority leader's top priority to make President Obama a one-term President after the mid-term elections.
You are no economist Mr. Romney. Let the economist.figure the unemployment OK. Its about time to conceit. You flip-flop too much. You think you can lie to the 47% americans whom you call a smoocher. Even if you eat your dog/s pooh, no one will believe you.
Mitt Romney is a shill for the very rich 1% nothing more. Don't vote for him as you will be shafted...... Ask Big Bird.
Nothing is more feared by Republicans than good economic news. They've worked so hard towards obstructing progress the last thing they need is fewer American workers with jobs. Today I hear Romney flip-flopping on his 47% statement. How many times can he shake the Etch-A-Sketch and get voters to buy it? He's a pathological liar.
Yawn... Where are your taxes Mittens? LMAO it is over Mittens.
You flip-flop too much Mr. Romney. Even if you tell the americsn people you eat your dog's pooh, no one will believe you.
...and now the political spin game begins. Just like Wheel of Fortune, except all the spaces are marked Bankrupt.
For Mitt nothing is enough. He can tell no lie that is big enough. He would rather berate Obama at every step of the way. It is much easier to say bad things about the President than to really tell Americans any real plan that won't change in five minutes.
Jobs gains far less than the amount needed to keep up with population growth, and the unemployment rate goes down from 8.1% to 7.8%??? Sounds like an October Surprise from a desperate, failed, corrupt administration. Cook the books, conduct a personal smear campaign against your opponent, coordinate your campaign with a complicit media – anything, ANYTHING, but but talk about the abysmal record of the last four years.
Romney's argument is that the Obama policies are heading us into the wrong direction. If so, the unemployment rate would be going up, not down. Why should we take a chance with flip flop Mitt's policies when the unemployment rate is already coming down. And, we wouldn't even know which Mitt would actually move into the White House. The behind the doors conservative 47% Mitt, or the one at the debate moderate Mitt who now cares about everyone.
You have got to be kidding me. This is wonderful news.. It took 8 years for the jobless rates to climb, and in under 4 years we've covered a lot of ground. Wait and see what happens when Obama is re-elected.
And I know, a lot of people are going to say that – well that just means "people are losing hope and stopped looking for jobs.." Romney is trying to fool the public..
the GOP getting nurvous when they hear the good news about the economy on the wake of their big debate performance!!
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. . . . God is good and is still in control.
Forgive me God, but just this once.
7.8% 'IN YOUR FACE" Romney, Boehner, McConnel, Priebus, Newt, Trump and the likes of all the republican obstructionist party of "NO"
In Jesus Christ Name, Amen!
Get Lost, Romney
Republican want the economy to fail, and fail badly. Romney's sole mission is to make sure the the American economy crashes so that he can outsource everything to China. He is a profiter of failing businesses and he only knows how to save something that is failing, not grow a country.
Mr Romney, how many manufacturing jobs did Bain capital actually kill in the US?
As Bill Clinton said we are in right track don’t change the president now
You will never make this flip flopper happy! He has changed his views so much in the last few months, you cannot trust him at all. Now he says that he did not really mean the comment he made about the 47%. Wow! The day after he made it he said that he stood by his comment. This man is nothing but lies. But of course, according to what he is taught, you can lie for the Lord. He is just eviil.
Romney claiming unemployment below 8% is not enough!! What about your 2 years Tax Returns you issued, do you think they are enough for us??? Please answer.