October 5th, 2012
11:25 AM ET
10 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. Lean6

    Gee...i'm totally shocked. I thought for certain that the potential President of the United States would see something positive in something like this. I've gotta go sort this out over a cup of "yeah the fuque right!"

    October 5, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  2. Bayousara

    It will take time to fix GW Bush's mess. I keep in mind that we have a very global economy, our jobs disappeared to China years ago, but I also am hopeful things will continue to turn around. The last thing we need is to switch presidents after only four years. It will take Romney at least four years to even figure out how to be a president.

    October 5, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  3. tstorm92

    Romney, it's your conservative party that threw America into a Depression. It's the Republicans in congress who have refused to pass a single jobs bill to help us get out of it. Not enough??? You should be in jail!

    October 5, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  4. Jules

    Romney's whole plan is to go back to the Bush policies that caused this. Great idea. Let's do that.

    October 5, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I wonder how the next Debate will play out; what will Mitt have to say then?"

    He'll suggest that:

    A. The numbers are "cooked".
    B. He can do better.
    C. He never said anything about 8% unemployment.
    D. Forget everything he previously said and ramble on to another subject.

    Mitts real strength is the ability to confuse an issue long enough that NO ONE knows what he's talking about ... including himself.

    October 5, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  6. Greg

    If the unemployment rate fell to 4.7% during the campaign it would still be too high for Mr. Romney. This guy is a joke. For weeks he defended his "47%" remark, but now all of a sudden...he was wrong, really. So now the unemployment rate is back to where it was when the President took office... but it's still the President's fault. Please. The Republican agenda has always been, as Mitch McConnell said four years ago, to make Mr. Obama a one term president. So apparently Mitt will be whoever he needs to be at any given moment to make Mr. McConnell's wish come true. Truly sad, America. Truly sad. Shame on you, Willard... Hey wasn't there a movie years ago called "Willard" and it was about a RAT. It was remade in 2003 and apparently it's being remade again here in 2012 and it stars Willard Romney. LOL.

    October 5, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  7. simp

    CNN I want to know why havent your so call political team and romeny the liar hasnt called out mitt for not denouncing that big fat head sununu for his disrespectful commets about the President? I haven't seen anything from you CNN in this last statement fat so sununu made by calling the President lazy and not to bright. Are you kidding me?

    7.8%..... wasn't expecting that were you mitt the liar? If the rate 1.0% you would still find fault because you were expecting them to be higher so you can go out and tell more lies about this President like you did during the debate. As I watched that debate it amazed how much mitt lied, he is so desperate to get into the whtie house the devil is pulling all his strings

    October 5, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  8. Lean6

    Gee...i'm totally shocked. I thought for certain that the hopeful challenger to be President of the United States would see something positive in something like this. I've gotta go sort this out over a cup of "YEAH RIGHT!!"

    October 5, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  9. shawnDH

    I think I speak for most Americans when I say, "Shut up, Mittens."

    This guy is clearly rooting AGAINST our country. It's disgusting.

    October 5, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  10. Peniah

    One thing for sure- the President looked extremely tired and Romneys blatant lies left President Obama shocked and speechless. He saw no point attcking Romney because he expects the American public to be smart enough not to be towed away by Romneys falsehood. Women know this rule- the smooth-talking "too good to be true" guy who quickily changes his stance is a dangerous guy to date. You are better off with an honest guy who may not say all you want to hear but tell you the truth. Obama could not bring himself so low as to lie to the American people just to win a debate. That being said, Romney may have won the debate but lost the election. John Kerry won all debates against George Bush but he lost. Obama will still win cos Romney just wants to be President for his selfish interests. Remember, Romney does not care about the 47%

    October 5, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  11. Sniffit

    Jobs report takes messy dump on Mittens' debate parade. Mittens and GOP/Teatrolls FLIP out. Flop to follow.

    October 5, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  12. Rosslaw

    Oh well, can't win them all. Maybe Mittens can keep his fingers crossed and hope for a domestic terrorist attack that kills thousands of Americans. I'm sure republicans would feel real bad about that!

    October 5, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  13. Ace

    Grapes! Sour Grapes Here! Get your Sour Grapes!

    October 5, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  14. the situation

    I never seen a party that only cares that American people tanks for their on agenda. GOP = Unamerican!

    October 5, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  15. Sniffit

    "Can you say "cooked books"?"

    Nope. Can't. I can say "crow casserole" though.

    October 5, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  16. Critical Thinker

    It could be 2% and Mitt would still say it's not enough. He would pimp his wife if he thought that would win the election.

    October 5, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  17. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer


    The unemployment rate is 7.8%...


    Obama/Biden 2012 by a LANDSLIDE.

    October 5, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  18. Look around

    Has anyone seen Europe lately? Their unemployment is at 25%. China can't even calculate their unemployment. We are making great strides in spite of our exports having nowhere to go. I'll take 7.8% over 25% any day. Actually, I live in a city with 5.9% unemployment. I don't know any unemployed people. I was laid off and got a new, better job before I got my first unemployment check. Stop fear-mongering Repubes.

    October 5, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  19. scarf

    It won't be enough for Romney until everybody has at least 2 jobs and thus, an unemployment rate of -100%, and the income from both jobs is required to rise above the poverty level.

    October 5, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  20. John

    Another inside job, courtesy of obamacare.

    October 5, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |

    Umm GOP? Please explain to me how a lower unemployment rate is bad for America regardless of the percentage rate it fell to.

    October 5, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  22. jersey_boy_weee

    I think the fudged numbers are going to back fire on the “Chicago Style” White House. It is not only embarrassing but scary that the WH actually thinks they can do this as a last desperation measure 30 days before the election and think people (undecided voters) will not get the connection. How dumb.

    October 5, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  23. John

    Another inside job, courtesy of ob ama care.

    October 5, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  24. Critical Thinker

    Mitt's math is so spurious it's questionable if Mitt even understands what the value 8 represents in base 10.

    October 5, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  25. worm

    of course Flipper said that. You expect him to applaud??

    October 5, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
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