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.

The new American job: Part time?

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. Woman In California

    “This is not what a real recovery looks like,” Romney wrote.

    Your meal ticket is gone FOR GOOD and so are you in November.

    October 5, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  2. bailouts

    you can't have a low job growth of 114K... and then a drop of the unemploymet # down to 7.8 without eliminating a major group or two... by not counting them in the calulations at all.

    in this case, it's those who are now only part-time,dropped from full time just to keepsome type of income, and those who have completly given up.
    this number is not accurate or honest. t's chicago politics creeping in AGAIN.

    October 5, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  3. Peter from Philly

    you are right Mr Romney when you said ...you are wrong .... for any country!

    October 5, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  4. Vote 2012

    Mit Romney is a flip flopping liar. During the debate he was rude, a bully and as always flip flopping liar. Not only did he fire Big Bird he also fired the moderator, after all he did admit he "like to fire people". Either he had too much of the energy boost drink "Red Bull" or he was high on something else during the debate or he really is Schizophrenic. We don't need a lying flip flopping Schizophrenic as President of the United States.

    October 5, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  5. Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

    A guy who calls himself A True Conservative mindlessly posted the following hypocritical nonsense:

    "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!"

    First, you are not a true conservative. No true conservative would embrace lying, and spreading those same lies themselves, to support ANY candidate.

    Second, you have informed anyone who reads your comment and actually understands it that you are a hypocrite, and also a liar, since you will repeat those same lies without actually verifying whether or not they are true (they are not, and Al Gore NEVER claimed he invented the internet).

    Third, as a true conservative, you are a believer in the comic book superhero, Jesus. Since Jesus would not approve of you spreading falsehoods and bearing false witness, nor of accepting and promoting lies for an agenda, you're definitely going to hell.

    Burn, baby, burn!

    October 5, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  6. carly

    Romney is a pandering id*ot. If he was president we would be at a 20% unemployment rate now.

    October 5, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  7. jofb716

    Ancient Texan
    7.8%..yeah, right. And the one in November, just in time for the election will read 0% unemployed. Can you say "cooked books"?

    Which is why Romney didn't question the numbers. You may want to adjust the aluminum foil...

    October 5, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  8. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    The unemployment rate is 7.8%.

    Four more years!

    Obama/Biden 2012!

    October 5, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  9. Erick

    So, let's do the math: fewer jobs were created last month than in the months before yet the unemployment rate plunged DOWN by 0.3%. Tell you what, people, I've got a few bridges I can sell you really cheaply... trust me because if you believe those numbers as a sign of improvement you'll buy ANYTHING

    October 5, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  10. Tork

    underemployment rate 14.7%. Numbers are wonderful things- so easily manipulated. Part time jobs rise the most- no benefits, low hours, small take home, do not qadd to tax revenues...stagnation. When all the numbers are looked at, we are in for a miserable number of years yet to come. As was proven the other night, our leader has very little knowledge of economics and job creation and its impact to revenues. Any bounce is a good sign but it could have been reported to be 4% with a revision to come in november to 20%. Bottom line...are we able to pay our bills. Nope...not yet...still adding deficits – and do not expect a Clinton turnaround- he inherited much of what drove the economy and the environment for job growth is no longer there- that was an economy driven by new technology a high school kid could start a company with in a cellar...could start a company on a shoe string- microsoft being one. The new economy and biotechnology requires a bit more overhead and requires employees who go into debt with education. Upstart tech companies were often happening with kids without college degrees...the MacDonalds burger kids were set free with gadgets.

    October 5, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  11. David

    People do realize this is temporary right? Retailers are hiring for the holiday selling season then after Christmas the jobs will fall again.

    October 5, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  12. Herbal Tea Party

    Shake the Etch-a-Sketch. Now during the 1st debate, Mr. Romney is pandering to the middle and throwing the far right under the bus.
    Who is the REAL Mitt Romney? No one knows and that's the problem.

    October 5, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  13. Dana

    Not enough? Sure, let's hike it up to 13% again, like your buddy Bush did. NEVER IN MY LIFE vote for Re-thugs.

    October 5, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  14. Ind.

    As I've stated there's no limit as to how far this administration will go.

    October 5, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  15. peter

    I think Mitt still stands by his initial 47% claim. A simple apology for that kind of remark is simply disingenuous damage control that came to late to be believable. Mitt's political is like a political chameleon changing his colors to suit his audience. He needs to take a foothold in one political stance and own it. I still have no idea what this car sells-man is trying to sell me. Vague answers to important issues is not the best route for this country.

    October 5, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  16. RGCC

    Why is Romney taking such a negative attitude about good job new?. The report shows we are going in the right direction. More Americans have employment. It is not good to be negative all the time!!

    October 5, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  17. Jill

    Yea, unemployment is 7.5% national average and in over 35 states is much lower than 7%. We should all welcome this good news!

    October 5, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  18. Woman In California

    As far as your 47% comment being wrong, so are you. Would this be what the American people could come to expect from a Romney presidency, waiting weeks later-after our sons and daughters are killed and sent off to unnecessary wars for you to admit you were wrong? You sir, are all wrong for America and by the way, congratulations on your 2% poll bounce.

    October 5, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  19. flip flop fizz fizz

    "Speak softly and carry a big stick" Obama has quietly worked hard to upright a sinking ship. Even with all of Mitt's lies and mud slinging, we are back on the right path and heading towards calmer waters. Mitt has told us what his one plan is in the secret tape..."I can do nothing if elected, and the unemployment rate will go down." Yep, that is his plan, get elected and the rate falls. LOL

    October 5, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  20. Ind.

    Hussein Obama was handed his arse two nights ago and I can promise you that this ficticious job number will be revised but ONLY after the election.

    October 5, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  21. achepotle

    Just look to the Angel Moroni for answers.

    October 5, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  22. LiLa

    President Obama would be the first to tell us that it's still not enough BUT it's a positive trend and another four years for the President would keep us moving on that path. We've become so accustomed to immediate gratification but our economy was near total collapse and recovery won't happen overnight.

    The Republicans keep talking about how many people have "given up looking for work" but I wonder if has more to do with the large numbers of baby boomers reaching retirement age than it does people giving up.

    October 5, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  23. BADmin

    7.8! My, how unimpressive...basically back where we were when he took office.
    Well, as the saying goes "nothing comes from nothing",
    Obama needs to go back to community organizing...apparently organizing a country is beyond his experience and capability. Oh, and let's give TOTUS to O on his way out – Romney don't need it.

    October 5, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  24. FloydZepp

    Lets see Romney flip-flopped – again – now he supports ObamaCare options and giving illegals visas, and raising taxes and cutting tax deductions.....geez, the man is weather vane......

    October 5, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  25. Observer14

    When Romney was a Govenor of Massachusetts in 2002, Raytheon laid of large number of folks in 2002. Mit Romney did nothing too help them in medical insurance of job training, some folks had to go to the food pantry to make ends meet....Don't trust him he is looking after himself.....

    October 5, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
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