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. Ronda in Houston,TX

    What else to you expect from Romney the Puppet Liar? Maybe if he could fire Big Bird, the employment numbers would go up?

    October 5, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  2. Brenda

    And Romney's big idea of letting the auto industry fail would have meant more manufacturing jobs lost. Do we really want him to steer the ship?

    October 5, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |

    Hey Mitt the twitt Robmoney, Ernie and Burt, Groover, Oscar and Cookie Monster said they'd like to send you a one way ticket to China!

    Sincerely, not your friend Big Bird!

    October 5, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. jinx88

    Mittens only fire power was "41 months of unemployment over 8%", now he needs to bump it up to 11%. This guys is garbage. He lied in the debate facts proved that, heck his own advisor said his health plan does not cover pre-existing. Mittens is nothing but a "rookie" he is not even in the same league as Obama. 4 more years!!!! Repugs should get used to hearing this.

    October 5, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  5. kent

    sad to see everyone want to rip romney and obama. this is politics. it's a game to see who can win. the reason i don't vote republican anymore, is they have been largely overtaken by the religious right wing. i despise people who have this invisible god in the sky that favors them and their policy. and no, i'm not an angry atheist. i just don't want people telling me how to live a proper life based on something that isn't there. i'm doing fine, thank you. go obama in 2012. as for the economy, it's cyclic. republicans have done well in certain years, and democrats have done well in other years. keep the religious right from making policy in the united states of america, would go a long ways in making this a better nation. not that god is happy with us.

    October 5, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  6. Malory Archer


    Unemployment numbers do not accurately reflect the health of the economy. What is the average wage for these new jobs? How much were these people making in their prior jobs? What is the median age of these people? The reality is that millions of high-paying jobs have been lost and are being replaced by low-paying jobs.


    As has been the case for the last 30 years. I graduated highschool in 1982, and my generatio has been downsized, outsourced and retrained ad nauseum our entire working lives. The remaining tend to be low-wage service industry jobs or a handful that require costly technical training for which thousands of others are also training to fill a few hundred jobs, which allows employers to pay substandard wages for even those jobs that require some sort of skill.

    October 5, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  7. Brian

    maratechfan wrote:
    When unemployment drops 0.3, on a small gain of 114,000 new jobs, what it show is that a large number of people stopped looking for jobs.


    Actually the numbers show more people have started looking for work in September, and the rate dropped because the job numbers have been revised from the past two months to show 86,000 more jobs were added than origanally reported. Not to mention wages were on the rise in September. This is all very good news for the our country.

    October 5, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  8. Rob

    Dame if you do & dame if don't

    October 5, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. truth hurts

    It's a bloody miracle I tell you!!! The biggest drop JUST before election day and with only 114,000 new jobs created! Wait a minute....

    And next month the Obama administration will tell you it dropped AGAIN to 5.9%!!! It will just take a slight adjustement of a few numbers and all this pesky unemployment bad news for Obama will be gone. I mean we can't have people thinking the middle class is getting crushed by the Obama administration can we?

    Wake up America. You are being lied to and manipulated in ways you cannot begin to comprehend. The publishing of this fantasy drop in unemployment one month before a Presidential election is proof of it.

    October 5, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  10. jorge washinsen

    Does the Obama admiinstration think that no one will crunch those figures just released that can count.

    October 5, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  11. wonderabout

    A puppet for the Koch Brothers will say anything, at anytime and then change the message to fit the crowd... Of course he doesn't care a twit for the majority of voters, their children or the next generations. And the key to the 600,000 manufacturing jobs lost were the work of Romney and Bain – those who sold off the factories, put people out of work and made butt loads of money for himself and his "investors." Poo on you Mittens – the only hope is that people are finally listening to all his lies, recognizing them as such and voting for Obama – so he can continue the recovery.... oh and don't forget to look at other candidates, local, state and federal!

    October 5, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  12. ling-fu

    Somehow, this fool Obama keeps slowly but steadily creating jobs and recovering economy, just by using the Clinton policies that worked. NO brainer, just cut and paste what Clinton did. No need to invent a new bicycle. Excuse me, but I would stick to this slow fool Obama than trying "what no one had every tried before" and "I won't tell you what it is". And wait till the third debate to call the winner. Romney told everything we needed to know: he promises not to raise taxes, and at the same time he says about eliminating deductions which IS raising taxes; he says about keeping Medicare and then promises to move it from Federal shoulders to the states which IS eliminating Medicare (so that this program would share a sad destiny of public parks and camps); and so on and on on every point. Truly, in order to be re-elected, Obama could have said nothing, and just let Romney talk for himself!

    October 5, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  13. jorge washinsen

    You can do just so much to get this man elected again.

    October 5, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  14. g

    romney and friends would like to finish off the middle class once and for all-peasants

    October 5, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  15. Dan

    The real unemployment rate is not 7.8%. That's the "official" unemployment rate that the Obama Labor Department is asking us to swallow.

    If all those who have become discouraged and quit looking for work are factored in, the unemployment rate is well into the double digits. In fact, if the "official" US labor force today was the same size as the labor force when Obama took office in 2008, the unemployment rate would be 11.4%.

    If any employers out there are indeed adding jobs, it's in spite of this administration, not because of it.

    October 5, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. Mai

    What did you expect him to say? Yes the president is doing the right thing and we're slowly progressing? Or put me another republican back in office so I can finish what Bush fail to accomplish?

    October 5, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  17. FrankA

    I'm against gay marriage. Oh what is that, Hollywood will give me $16 million? I'm for gay marriage. It was the movie that got Ambassador Stevens killed. No it wasn't the movie. Yes it was the movie. It really wasn't but I said it was, so it was.
    Michelle, when am i scheduled to be on the View again?

    October 5, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  18. nvmature

    First the Republicans say the threshold for progress is being less than 8%. Now that it is, they say it is not enough. Clear to see they are gloom-sayers. They will not accept any good news-if it is not theirs.

    October 5, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Go suck eggs Romney or go count your money in your Cayman Island and Swiss bank account, Romney hasn;t had a job in years, hasn't looked for one but decides he wants to be President.

    October 5, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  20. GOP hate America

    This does not fit in the framework of republican hope of failure. A bad news day for them to say the least.

    October 5, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. Wendy

    So sad.. Republicans can't find one SOLID leg to stand on when finding this to criticize The President of these United States, Barack Obama, now they loose another leg (jobs). It takes time to recover from 8 years of Republican demise and the record is showing it is working with The President of these United States, Barack Obama in office. Why change that... oh because he is BLACK or because they are not in charge..hmmm. Democrates think of ALL people, black, white, hispanic, asian, indiana..... All people make up the upper class, middle class and lower class (if we have to put a class on us). So people look at the record don't listen to the rhetoric. Know the game and the people playing it..

    October 5, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  22. jorge washinsen

    The problem in this country is that if you call a contractor for a job he shows up wth a truck full of illegals who are paying no taxes or more than likely getting taxes back.No president will touch the real problem also of the people on disability who are just as healthy as anyone working in a lot of cases and also medicare fraud.

    October 5, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  23. Robert

    So typical of politics it doesn't make much difference. Someone turning good news into bad simply because the other party holds the Presidency. *Yawn*

    October 5, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  24. Lisa P

    I'm sure the Republicans are sorry to lose their favorite brainless talking point, after all their efforts to make 8% unemployment sound like some kind of highly significant number. But I suppose they saw it coming - that's probably why they've been pushing some combination of unemployed (still seeking employment), "discouraged workers" (no longer actively seeking employment) and underemployed (employed part time but seeking full time employment) for the last month or so since the Republican convention.

    Of course the Republicans conveniently forget that if "discouraged workers" are no longer part of the standard unemployment statistic it's because President Reagan had them taken out so his own numbers would look better and he could tout a "dramatic improvement!" in employment numbers under his administration. Republican policies have been more about hiding chronic unemployment, rather than actually promoting job creation and fair wages, for quite some time now; I don't expect Mitt Romney to change that trend by one iota, should America be foolish enough to elect him President.

    October 5, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. stevetall

    Why is it that the current crop of Republicans in never satisfied with progress? Apparently, they are more than just poor statesmen. It's time to cast the robots out and get some people in there who can work as a team to benefit all Americans.

    October 5, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
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