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.

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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. 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 and everybody knows it.

    October 5, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  2. Christie

    These are not the jobs of yore people, these are far lower paying because companies have cut back so much because they are uncertain of the future. Millions have dropped out of the job hunt and, unfortunately, the numbers do not reflect that or the hopelessness that millions feel with Obama's "leadership".

    October 5, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  3. rla

    AMAZING MAGICAL OBAMA!!! WOW I EXPECT HIM TO WALK ON WATER SOON- Look at the U6 number- no change 14.7% unemployment,, not enough jobs to cover population growth and the unemployment rate goes down//// Wow Chicago all the way!

    October 5, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  4. FredKelly

    Media Matters just hired 500k interns.

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

    What exactly is BHO doing that led to this so-called recovery? The TARP, the stimulus, ObamaCare? The four straight years without a budget? The four straight years with $1 trillion dollar deficits? $5/gallon gasoline? Does it feel like things are getting better?

    October 5, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  6. adrifter

    My American friends, here are some more numbers for you to consider. Canada's jobs report also came out today. Our economy added 52,100 jobs (in a country with one-tenth the population of the U.S.). But Canada's unemployment rate went UP to 7.4 per cent because more people joined the labour force thinking they might find a job.

    October 5, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  7. drod

    The Recovery is moving FORWARD! The Republican just hate it when there's good news for the American people.

    OBAMA 2012

    October 5, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  8. ChrisM

    If 114K jobs were added and it takes roughly 150K jobs added per month just to keep up with population growth, how does the unemployment rate drop by 0.3%?
    A.) Just shows that more people have given up
    B.) Government is spinning the numbers to bolster someone's campain.
    In any event the real unemployment rate increased since 114K is less than the required 150K growth just to stay even.

    October 5, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. Everett

    What Republicans like Boehner and Mitt refuse to acknowledge is that this economy was an absolute mess when President Obama walked into the Oval office. Unemployment was hovering at close to 11%. The DOW was at about 8000, if not lower, and the housing market was crashing. We were in two wars costing nearly $10 billion a month. Now the DOW is around 12,000 everyday, the housing market is beginning to bounce back with home prices increasing and purchases up, unemployment has decreased 30% as of today. This economy was on the edge of a cliff when the President took over and he's done everything possible to move it away from the cliff with absolutely no Republican help. The unemployment rate would be around 5-6% if the Republicans had not blocked the jobs bill last year. President Obama has done a great job considering all the blocking that has been going on.

    October 5, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  10. needNewGov

    what this country needs is a government that works with each other. Perhaps if the GOPrs had helped some, the economy would be better. BUT of course as long as the middle class isn't spending, companies aren't hiring. The President is not responsible for companies not hiring. I wish these GOP commenters would take their head out of the sand and realize that.

    October 5, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  11. tomnikoly

    "obama has cooked the numbers on all jobs reports since in office."

    Did Clinton "cook" the numbers when the rate was 4.4% when he left office? Did Bush "cook" the numbers when in his eight years that number went to 7.8%? Yep....that 7.8% rate is the one Obama inherited.

    October 5, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. Ricky D

    Well, of course it's going down. Look back historically, this time of year it usually does due to companies "Holiday Hiring" it's already started. Plus, as people are forced off the unemployment rolls it's sure to drop. It's definitely not becuase the economy is getting that much better.

    October 5, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. Detroitpride

    Friends, it is obvious that while President Obama was born in Kenya he had plenty of time to develop a system to rig getting his US birth certificate, his college transcripts, the polls and now the unemployment numbers. Knowing the US citizens are too naïve to ever figure this out. Wait a minute, the right wing crazies caught on to his master scheme and figured it out. Who would have thunk it?

    Too funny. Love a good conspiracy theory. I have my own. The Right Wing crazies will rise up and call for succession on November 7th!

    October 5, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. Dennis

    It amazes me how some people still support a failed president. Even someone with the most basic understanding of economics knows this unemployment number means nothing. The U4 rate is the important one, over 10%.

    October 5, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  15. Monte

    Can someone explain to me how we can gain 114,000 jobs, mostly part time, and the unemployment rate drops 0.5%? Does this mean that if we add only 1M more jobs the rate will be at 2.8%?

    October 5, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. ctbeckyw

    Agree that it is not enough but Mittens sure isn't the answer. The President needs to input an employment program like the New Deal which a> creates jobs b> trains people for jobs and c> fixes the country's infrastructure. He can pay for it by either cancelling a few bombers we don't need or jacking up the price for those we sell abroad. In addition, the tax rate on those over a million. Needs to be 40% and up.

    October 5, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  17. Kitty Litter

    Certainly good news no matter which side you are on.However, each of these knuckleheads will spin it to benefit themselves.

    October 5, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  18. JaC

    MiItt Romney is the kind of person we do not need/want in the White House. He is the Don Draper (Mad Men) of politics. Yeah...he may know something about business....but can you really trust this guy. Absolutely not!!

    October 5, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  19. C

    Guess that I should feel much better that only 27.8 million people are unemployed now instead of 28 million. My prospects are looking so much better now.

    October 5, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  20. Ind.

    The Hussein Obama administration doubling down on lies.

    Typical and expected.

    October 5, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  21. Jason

    Dems, 43 months about 8%, and you call a drop to 7.8% the last month before the election a fricken victory? Who are you kidding? You guys need to stop drinking the kool-aid and get a clue. We have people that have simply given up searching. A gas crisis is going on in California which is going to spread to the rest of America. If we had a president that knew anothing about economics as was displayed Wednesday night, we would not be in this mess today. We need a new president that can get us back down to unemployment numbers of 4-5%! Don't call this a victory people. When you do, you are not thinking about all those who in the middle class are struggling, loosing homes, filing bankruptcy, turning to substance abuse, etc. This is way to slow for way to long. Dems, get a clue!

    October 5, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  22. C

    I feel much better that only 27.8 million people are unemployed now instead of 28 million. My prospects are looking so much better now.

    October 5, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  23. Toolate

    It went from 8% to 7.8% – what an accomplishment! LOL.

    October 5, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  24. Granger

    numbers cooked rapidly...at a boil...to distract from the dismal debate performance from the Messiah...

    October 5, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  25. jess

    hmm unemployment rate 8 % for 43 straight months..them magically because of Obama'a policies unemployment drops 7.85 one month before the election?...i dont think so..anyone who believes that number been drinking way too much Obama Kool-aid....

    October 5, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
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