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. Ind.

    Sorry democrats but only true idiots would believe these numbers.

    October 5, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  2. superbole

    JohnRJohnson's comment deserves repeating: WE'VE LOST 600,000 MANUFACTURING JOBS SINCE OBAMA TOOK OFFICE BECAUSE this country lost more than 50,000 factories between 2000 and 2009. Romney knows that, but he persists in telling half-truths or downright lies. Romney isn't fit to be president.

    October 5, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  3. Thunderbolt

    Of course you realize that stores are gearing up for the holidays with seasonal work. Which means even tho these jobs may be full time, they are only for three months.I just bet you that they are hoping that people won't remember that.

    October 5, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  4. Telluride Greg

    If Obama was an olympic marathon runner and he fell flat on his face after taking two steps, he would be pointing at the fact that he fell in the right direction!

    October 5, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  5. Drinkthekoolaid

    Raise taxes on the job makers out there, and yet it still doesn't help the deficit. Only about a single month of it apparently. Once they tax the wealthier, guess who'll be taxed yet again? The middle class! Wake up folks. Our country needs a change of course and direction and so many are so naive to notice.

    October 5, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. DirtyHeat

    Pretty obvious to see what is going on here. Pump the job #'s up 2 months before the election. Revise the figures downward after. Obama lies again!

    October 5, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  7. eric

    Romney has a problem, as he gives those heart rending speeches about people being unemployed and suffering, blah and blah. He can't stand the fact that more people are getting employed each week/month, because that is going to put him in the unemployment line.
    Well, he can't help being the little hypocrite, because he wants to win bad and to hell with the nation if it is going to do better with the unemployment rate is going down.

    October 5, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  8. Jeff E

    Well, we certainly don't want to go back to the same failed policies that created this hole, that the president is just now getting us out of, that's for sure.

    October 5, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  9. charles bowen

    It took Bush and the Republicans 8 years to screw the Economy up and now that it is finally coming back do you really want to give it back to another Repuclican't..... Romney will lie through his teeth to steal the American Dream from you and put it in his bank account .......OBAMA 4 More Years of progress on this climb out of our Republican Deficit Hole....Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    October 5, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. phoenix86

    100,000+ jobs to help retailers prepare for the holiday shopping. I suppose Obama can claim these are the shovel ready jobs he spent almost a trillion dollars to provide.

    October 5, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. flip flop fizz fizz

    Mitt, don't be angry and upset with these numbers.. look at the positive side.. China still has cheap labor and your investments depend on their cheap labor, not american labor. This report means nothing to you... personally.

    October 5, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. Jesse

    Ronmey won the debate, but Obama clearly got the last laugh at the end.

    October 5, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  13. Robert

    I guess the GOP will have to do something quick to wreak havoc on the economy.

    October 5, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    As Obama mentioned in the debate – and I'm paraphrasing – "It's simple math stupid". Let's say there were 20 people unemployed and looking for work last month out of 100 total people – this is a 20% unemployment rate. Then, some people STOP LOOKING FOR WORK this month so there are now 15 people unemployed and still looking for work out of the same 100 total people this month. MAGICALLY, THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE HAS DROPPED to 15% while we still have the same 20 people still out of work. If you are saying to yourself – no, that's not how these numbers are calculated – think again.

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  15. idoesn'tmatter

    so many of you people are just hilarious, I can always come here for some good entertainment. Obama has you so well trained that he starts a new talking point and most of you just start spouting off about that point like its been bothering you for a long time. Original thoughts would go a long way towards helping some of you wake up.

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  16. Ind.

    Democrats literally think they're living in Utopia now.

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Liberals, do you understand this: The U6, the ACTUAL unemployment rate, remained the same at 14.7%. The 7.8% figure was taken from *seasonal household figures. 2/3rds of the "gains" were in *part-time* employment (again, seasonal).

    We had 181K/July, 142K/Aug, and 114K in Sept......yet the rate went from 8.1% to 7.8%. ???? Try and spin that "growth" and math Libs.

    The workforce participation percentage is the lowest it has been in 30yrs, THEREFORE, it will necessarily, mathematically, yield a smaller unemployment percentage.

    Again, the U6 remained unchanged at 14.7%. Unbelievable that so many, including a willfully ignorant, biased media in the tank for B.O., fail to understand this or accurately report it.

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  18. FrankA

    Vote2012: Yes, fire all of the Republicans. Then you may have enough left in your paycheck to buy a loaf of bread when the Democrats finish taxing you.

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  19. MS OF NY

    "In a statement Friday, Romney said the numbers revealed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics weren't good enough."
    Even if the statistics are produced by a reliable source it is somehow not good enough for the Romney because it does not fit well with his lies. So when he says it were'nt good enough it means it is'nt good enough for his re-election.

    October 5, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  20. Sivick

    I bet unemployment could be at 1% and they'd still be unhappy.

    October 5, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  21. davetharave

    Romney's plan to grow the economy and add jobs 'much quicker' than President Obama would come at too high a price. Romney would remove regulations and controls which were put in place after the great recession. Romney would give corporations and his millionaire cronies huge tax breaks and claim they will 'trickle down' to the middle class' Romney will take us back to 2007-08 when Wall Street and huge Investment banks ran amok in an unregulated frenzy of risky deals and manufactured financial instruments. We cannot afford another calamity like 2008 and Romney's plan is hinged on recreating exactly that scenario.

    October 5, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. efsullyjr

    The reported payrolls growth figure for September, 114,000 jobs, was incredibly close to consensus forecasts of about 115,000 jobs added. But everything else about the report considerably beat expectations. Jobs figures were revised upward by 40,000 in July, and by 46,000 in August. Combined with the jobs growth in September, that means the economy added 200,000 more jobs than we thought previously.

    But unlike last month, when a decline in the unemployment rate was caused by the exit of workers from the labor force, the household survey also reflected genuinely good news in September. According to that survey, 413,000 workers joined the labor force in September. But 873,000 more people became employed, causing the unemployment rate to fall to 7.8 percent. The decline in unemployment under Mr. Obama this year since December is the largest in an election year since Ronald Reagan’s re-election bid, when it declined to 7.3 percent in Sept. 1984 from 8.3 percent in Dec. 1983.

    If a Republican president had 1) killed bin Laden, 2) DOUBLED the stock market in four years and 3) had brought the unemployment rate down from 10.1 to 7.8 percent, Republicans would be singing his praises.

    October 5, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  23. Bob Jones

    The Labor Department, based on a broad survey of employers, said 114,000 jobs were added in September.
    But the unemployment rate itself 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.."
    Holtz-Eakin noted the household survey is smaller, suggesting it is not as reliable. He called estimate of 873,000 new jobs "implausible."
    Liberal economist Dean Baker, with the Center for Economic and Policy Research, called the September rate drop "almost certainly a statistical fluke."

    October 5, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  24. Robert


    They're playing with the statistics to help Obama. The truth is, most of these jobs are at Wal-Mart or Sears and are temporary holiday season jobs. These are people who used to be archetects, engineers, finance managers, pharmacists and executives packing shelves for minimum wage.

    October 5, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  25. Obammyas

    Why not read beyond the headlines folks. There is more than you're aware when it comes to figures. If you remain a tool, you will always be used as one. Perhaps that what the general public wants. Sad.

    October 5, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
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