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.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

"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. FLIndependent

    I've never heard Obama say that unemployment would go to 5.6% – where did the Repubs pull this # from when all along they were using "below 8%" as their benchmark? When passing the stimulus the President said the rate would stay out of double digits and hopefully not go above 8%. Now all the conspiracy theories from the Repubs because they can't accept the stimulus and the President's policies may just be turning things around...they're pathetic!

    October 5, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  2. Trace

    These numbers will be re-adjusted after the election

    October 5, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  3. zandhcats

    Vote the Republicans out is not the solution, there are also corrupted Democrats there. The fundamental is financial campaigns, the rich donors pull their money to protect their own interests, and the politicians lie to the public to keep them in power. W/o the interest lobbyists around Washington,we'll live much better.
    The great example is the oil industries which have poured millions to Romney, and try to stop OBama's proposal to eliminate the 4 billions tax breaks for them. Who is the ultimate winner, if Obama fails?

    October 5, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  4. Clinton

    Romney just lost the Election. Have a nice day Republicans.

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

    .".I suspect that if Mitt is elected we can all say goodbye to the middle cla-ss medicare, interest and tax write offs. And the wealthy will get even more grants and subsidies to build businesses off the middle cla-ss tax dollar. There is no economy without the middle cla-ss and there is no job creation without the middle cla-ss.. The middle cla-ss IS the economy. "

    October 5, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  6. Maria

    No not enough, more coming under Obama. Vote Romney and those jobs will be whipped out

    October 5, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  7. Joepub

    Of course numbers are dropping. Even if the Christmas season is weak, there is an uptick in employment. But these are temporary jobs and mostly part time positions. February the numbers will rise once again.

    October 5, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  8. Sagebrush Shorty

    Obama will always accept the credit,but never the blame.

    October 5, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  9. AmericanLiberal

    ya right...

    let's fudge the numbers – this administration is scruple-less

    October 5, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  10. Rose

    None of the people I know out of work have gotten a job, but I do know that some who have given up trying. Some California gas stations have had to shutdown this week, no gas. The prices were almost $5 and overnight went up to $6, hope it doesn't spread to other states.

    October 5, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  11. K from Santa Clara, CA

    As good as this all sounds, the economy needs to create 282,000 jobs a month for the next 5 years to get us back to per-recession employment. On average in 2012 the economy is only creating 146,000 jobs a month.

    Unemployment numbers are deceptive and only count people looking for jobs, and claims for unemployment. Also, we continue to issue 75,000 worker visas every month.

    We're actually losing jobs and unemployment is getting worse. You have to look at the entire jobs / visa picture to get the real numbers.

    October 5, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  12. Brian

    Progress...and of course, conservatives dump all over it, saying it's still not enough and that it doesn't mean anything. They'll gladly shove statistics in other people's faces when it comes to supporting their party/candidate, but when numbers are thrown back at them, all of a sudden they don't matter? How fickle and pessimistic.

    Obama's doing his best, and even with the lack of bipartisan support, he's getting somewhere. For all the jobs lost in the last four years, he's done his part to help get them back. Under 8% means we've still got hope...

    October 5, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  13. Pablo Picasso

    Sure, numbers are misleading but the fact is we are still slowly recovering whether republicans want it or not/ I would say Obama has had 2 years due to the fact that the first thing Mitch McConnell said after the 2010 is that his premiere goal is to defeat the President not create Jobs.

    October 5, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  14. YouThinkYouKnow

    Please remember that number does not reflect the millions of people who have run out of unemployment benefits and are underemployed, or still cannot find work. It only means new people who have applied for benefits. 114k jobs added? whoop-de-do...

    October 5, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  15. Matthew Giarmo

    What do you mean it left Romney without his usual line of attack? 114K is not a net gain. It does not account for (a) the losses last month or (b) the 456K who gave up looking for work, which is the REAL reason for the drop. You CNNers should be ashamed of yourselves. You're either ignorant / poor detetives or you're playing politics with the unemployed. As a PhD who has been unemployed for over 6 months (and who once worked for the United States Department of Labor), I have enough of my fingers on the pulse of the labor force to see through your lies. Ridiculously few positions have been added to the job portals. Previously advertised positions are being canceled. And given it's September we know many of the 114K are low wage seasonal hires. 114K does not even reach the 120K you need JUST TO KEEP PACE WITH THE POPULATION (i.e., new job seekers added to the workforce). The DOL, for which I worked years ago, does not even take the unemployment rate as a measure of anything. It's mush. Want proof? How can there only be 7.8% unemployed if there are 10% on food stamps.

    October 5, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  16. SPQR

    Mitt Romney is in this to make money for himself, his family and friends. Just like the other Republicans before President Obama.

    Not the American people.

    Why aren't W., Cheney or Rumsfeld campaiging for Mitt Romney ?

    October 5, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  17. Lisa P


    Just as the many other statistics and numbers put out there, do one's own research to get to the truth. Most of the numbers put out there are skewed. A stage has come, mostly in the last three years, nothing can be taken to be true on its face value
    October 5, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm
    As mentioned above. Reagan is the one who dropped "discouraged workers" from the unemployment statistics in order to improve his own numbers during the 1981/1982 recession.

    The "stage" you mention is that conservatives have figured out that the only way they can win is by undercutting people's confidence in the facts, and so we've seen 3 years of ruthless spin and merciless prevarication and manipulation, aided by the Fox News megaphone and hundreds of thousands of useful idiots ready to scream the latest nonsensical talking point.

    Since the conservative ideology is pretty much based on fantasies of various sorts anyway I suppose warping Americans' sense of reality serves a larger ideological purpose as well. I mean, if reality is all just a matter of opinion anyway, why not believe in the divine noodley appendages of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? But don't kid yourself that the people coming up with this crap don't have a bunch of numbers that they absolutely and solidly believe in.

    October 5, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  18. Matt


    The "U3" number that gets cited as the unemployment rate is meaningless. If you want to understand what is happening in the labor force, look at total labor participation. Google it, and go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. You'll see that the participation rate is steadily falling, meaning more and more Americans are out of the labor force.

    This "recovery" is mostly imaginary. And neither Obama nor Romney will do anything but borrow and spend us into oblivion....

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

    Romney and the GOP folks have a denial problem:
    If the unemployment numbers stay same or go up (hey there is no "cooking" up the numbers here), then they say: "America, I told you so!"

    If the unemployment numbers go down, well, that's it there is "cooking" up going here; it is a lie, boo hoo hoo.

    Well they will be crying all the way to the election date, as it will be 4 more years again....

    October 5, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  20. Bill

    Hmm gee. Rush LImbaugh predicted this very thing would happen way back in May. The unemployment rate miraculously goes under 8% just before the election! Yeah, right! I've never seen people so ecstatic over 7.8% unemployment.

    October 5, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  21. 2km N of GZero

    Obama debate performance was like a wounded seal floundering in a shark tank. Now that Romney's smelled blood he's on the hunt, even if the job numbers are great news he's going to try to rip them apart. Not very statesmanlike, eh? How about just saying "hey, great news!"

    October 5, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  22. Clinton

    The Hypocrisy of the Republican Party is Amazing...
    They are so critical of Obama that they litteraly went so far as to claim he wasn't even a citizen. At the same time they don't require their own candidate to even provide details of his plans for America. They don't even Require that their candidate provide his Tax Returns for more than 2 years... When his own father fought to make politicians release their tax returns... Romney is a fraud. Republicans are absolutely hypocritical.

    October 5, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  23. bails

    hip hip horrah for all those minimum wage paying jobs!!! McDonalds is always hiring!!!

    October 5, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  24. Pablo Picasso

    Mod. Please put election after 2010*don't post this*

    October 5, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  25. Susan Reaney

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Kids went back to school in August, those jobs need to be filled AND the Holiday Hiring Season has started. I wouldn't get too excited of the employment numbers, folks, this happens every year and every January the jobs numbers go right back UP! Obama is simply using the numbers as a political ploy...the question is are you stupid enough to believe it?

    October 5, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42