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. David

    Romney and the Republicans, who have made their goal to do nothing to help the middle class and improve the economy, have based their campaign on the economy tanking. Wrong assumption. The sky is falling Romney in the debate mentioned again about an over 8% unemployment rate; well he was wrong on his base assumptions, again. It is now below 8%, and the previous months have been revised to show even stronger job growth. But facts and truth and consistency are not part of Romney's tool kit. He has pandered and finger-pointed at every turn, whether it is on economic issues or the global front. At some point you leave a trail long enough that it catches up with you. The lower rate only reaffirms what Obama said in the debate and everywhere else: that with Obama's approach the economy has stabilized and is on a path to recovery. With his trillion dollar tax cut for the rich, Romney wants to take us off track and go back to the failed policies of George W. Bush, who led this country into the greatest economic downturn since the Depression.

    October 5, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  2. drguajar

    I think this is very good news for the president and very bad news for Mitt Romney. The unemployment rate is falling and that is what he had been harping had not been happening. It took the Republicans and George Bush 8 years to wreck the economy and it will take Obama 8 years to fix it, and fix it he will.

    October 5, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. suni

    Democrats think they are the only Americans? Well think again...

    October 5, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  4. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer


    I was watching a Romney campaign staffer on CNN an hour ago and he said the 7.8% is not going to help the person that is currently unemployed and his neighbor or friends who are also unemployed. I AGREE..

    HOWEVER, Mitt Romney said that 23 million Americans are unemployed and as President, he'd create 12 million jobs by the end of his first term. Well, what would Romney say about the remaining 11 million Americans he would leave unemployed after 4 years in office? Or their neighbors and friends? Furthermore, if Romney was elected President, he wouldn't have to deal with an economic crisis, two foreign wars and a divided congress bent on seeing that he and the country fail.


    Obama/Biden 2012 by a LANDSLIDE.

    October 5, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  5. freedom

    This so called "improvement" in job numbers doesn't take into account the real Americans out here who actually dropped out of the workforce because there are no full time jobs, and those who have been forced to take parttime jobs, because that's all that's available. It doesn't change anything ! The economy is still very bad. Obama doesn't get a do-over. New leadership is needed now –

    October 5, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  6. FactCheck

    I wonder what Romney's job creation record was when he was the Governor of Massachusetts. If only there was some place called the Internet where folks could look up these numbers.

    October 5, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |

    Romney said half the country sucks, now Romney says oops he wrong about half of America. Like Bush even before Romney is in the White House Romney says he has a list of countries he would like to attack, with Thermal Nuclear Codes Romney cant be half wrong!

    October 5, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Gee, it turns out that today IS another day.
    I hope you enjoyed your YESTERDAY Robmey.

    Obama 2012.

    October 5, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  9. southernwonder

    romney says he was completely wrong. well, he isn't admission enough, for he is more wrong than complete.

    this unemployment news trumps anything that was said in the debate. tie that further with:
    – lowest interest rate ever
    – no inflation despite rise in the gas price which is now on decline as well
    – lower taxes
    – strong dollar
    – falling health insurance rates (even a rebate check from insurance co) and far more people having health insurance
    – dow jones at its highest levels, and climbing further, making for great looking 401k
    – doubling of exports
    – bailouts now all paid back with handsome profit
    – greater oil independence
    – all these while the rest of the world is caught in economic turmoil!!
    – iran under tight sanctions

    and romney and his republicans compare obama to jimmy carter??!! romney isn't wrong only about the 47pct. he is going to find out he is completely wrong about his ownself whose campaign is one crazy fiction that keeps changing his looney tunes some of which we heard in the debate too.

    October 5, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  10. ncjayhawk

    Virtually all economists are calling the latest figures "questionable." The unemployment rate is based on a separate "household survey," which showed a whopping 873,000 new jobs in September. "This must be an anomaly," former Congressional Budget Office director Doug Holtz-Eakin said in a snap analysis of the numbers. "It is out of line with any of the other data."

    October 5, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  11. The REAL Truth...

    @myviewis – So many of you are saying that 7.8% gets us back to where we were with unemployment when Obama took office which means Obama (if the numbers have not been tampered with) has not created jobs, Obama only gained us back the jobs that had been lost. We are back to square one but nothing new of his own creation.
    ROFLMAO – did you read your post?? More right wing fuzzy math? Here's some basic arithmetic – MATH101 if you will.
    When losing 700,000 jobs a month in Jan 2009, the slide stops and now the growth rate is positive (not negative) in Sept 2012, and the total number of jobs created since Jan 09 is HIGHER/GREATER than that those lost since taking office.. we have JOB GROWTH! QED. Lesson over.
    Thanks for playing myview.

    October 5, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  12. avd

    huh? Are you democrats just making things up? Republicans blocked what? Obama had 2 years where Democrats were in charge – how do you explain that? Please people.

    And for the record, even when democrats were in charge, they still didn't vote for any bill for Obama. So Democrats blocked themselves. You've no one to blame but yourself.

    October 5, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  13. suni

    Romney – Ryan – 2012.

    October 5, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  14. Anonymous

    The unemployment rate has improved but this CNN reporter should stop painting a rosy picture. People are still having a hard time in this country. These numbers do not mean much to someone who does not have employment. What is this CNN reporter's agenda? To get POTUS re-elected?

    October 5, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  15. Hotdog

    Romney makes no sense. We were losing 750K per month before President Obama took office. If people thought that jobs would be added back to the economy at the rate that we were losing them then they are as sick as he is. Our recovery will not be an over night process. The country is on the right track and people should be patience. Remember GWB continued to tell us that the our economy was doing just fine and a deficit really did not mean any thing!

    October 5, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  16. Vote 2012

    II'm one of the 47% that you disowned in your behind closed door meeting Mitt. WTH does Mitt Romney know about jobs created in the United States? The only jobs he create are off shore jobs. With pride and boasting one of his favorite things to do is firing people, so he needs to stop his flip flopping lies about creating jobs in America. Please Mitt go away, the world is watching you and the world know what a nut case you are. P.S. you're lying about the woman approaching you and your wife begginng for health care. The only help you could give that woman is a worthless health care voucher. She too is in that 47%. I can't wait to see you tell more lies to the 47% in the next Town Hall Debate. President Obama did the right thing by not challenging you or correcting you much, he just let you run your mouth as again so the Nation the World could see what a disgrace you are. You're not capable of running this country.

    October 5, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  17. avd


    Where did you get all those figures? Sources please. I can make up anything but truth is, those are not real. Stock market doubled? Really? What world are you living in?

    October 5, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  18. Ken

    @ myviewis We are back to square one

    You are so right! We just made it back to square one – where W caused the Depression.

    And NOW we are climbing upward. Keep it happening, President Obama. You are on the right track. Even "myviewis" thinks so!

    October 5, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  19. Tom

    huh? Are you democrats just making things up? Republicans blocked what? Obama had 2 years where Democrats were in charge – how do you explain that? Please people.

    And for the record, even when democrats were in charge, they still didn't vote for any bill for Obama. So Democrats blocked themselves. You've no one to blame but yourself.

    October 5, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  20. Dan

    Romney shot off fireworks a bit too soon.

    People are comparing video of his comments from the primary to today and are not happy to see that several times he guaranteed he would not change his position, but started to say "I never said that". Can't get away with lying. Americans remember what happen when we were lied to during the 2004 campaign.

    Remember the American lives lost, trillions that were unfunded, and the economy that crashed because of the weapons of mass destruction lie.

    October 5, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  21. ncjayhawk

    The telling value is the Job Participation Rate which factors in the unemployed as well as those "who have given up". If the job participation rate were the same as when Barack Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 10.7 percent. This is not an economic “recovery” in a meaningful sense. We are adding fewer jobs on average per month than we did last year (143,00 vs. 153,000).

    October 5, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  22. Oakspar77777

    We need to move away from an "unemployed but looking for work rate" and move to a "percent of Americans working" rate.

    Job number growth can still mean lower precentages of Americans working if the number of new jobs does not keep pace with the population growth (# of new workings in – # of old workers out).

    The unemployment % has no choice but to be static. Even if there was a 8% jobrate increase (more jobs than "unemployed") the unemployment numbers would stay high because there is a "shadow inventory" unemployment out there just waiting for things to improve before moving back into the workforce.

    October 5, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  23. mark

    There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them..

    Mitt Romney

    October 5, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |

    Umm, Mr. Romney? How much is enough by YOUR standards? Or am I being too specific?

    October 5, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  25. MikeZ52

    I agree that it's not enough. Now if Congress would stop their childish tantrums and actually consider and pass one of the many jobs bills that have been introduced, we might actually get some better news.

    October 5, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
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