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. BlackDynamite

    President Obama: "YEEEAAAHHHH!!"


    October 5, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. Thunderbolt

    Come on people, its seasonal work. The stores are gearing up for the holidays. It doesn't take a genius to know that thses jobs will be gone by the middle of January. But Obama better use what he can.........why he can............

    October 5, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  3. Dakota Burt

    I hire 80 folks, since 2009, due to the decrese in demand from consumers, I have filled the positions with part-time workers. They come and go, but they are not an increase in financial liability to the Company since I do not have to pay out benefits. It is simple Capitalism, when times are good everyone benefits, when times are bad austerity measures have to be emplaced in order to survive and continue to provide services.
    It is a sad reality and I wish I could do more, but the money is simply not flowing to the small businesses, and the part-time folks are thrilled that at least I can help them retain their working dignity as human beings, and provide for their families with their own sweat. Someday I hope things will be better, but not today....

    October 5, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  4. NativeUSA

    Only 114,000 new jobs were full time all the rest were part time most minimum wage or slightly above minimum wage part time jobs hardly something to crow about!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 5, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. superbole

    Frankly – i'm a little surprised by the number of errors that both men made during the debates. Obama stretched the truth here and there. Romney actually told some real whoppers though:

    Romney claimed that Obamacare establishes a new board that is “going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have.” Sorry. I read the law and that's not true at all. The Affordable Care Act establishes an independent board to recommend cost-saving measures for Medicare – and specific language forbids the board to recommend rationed care or reduced benefits.

    Romney uses the old Tea Party tribe talk about Obama doubling the federal deficit. For the record, that's totally false. The annual deficit was already running at $1.2 trillion when Obama took office.

    During the debate, Romney claimed that middle-income Americans have “seen their income come down by $4,300.” I'm not sure where that came from because U.S. Census figures say that incomes went down by $2,492 – even after adjusting for inflation.

    Outright lies and gross exaggerations. That's the hallmark of the Romney campaign.

    October 5, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  6. a disgrace but you voted for him

    a day after he was shown up to be a fool by romney a desperate obama comes out with ridiculous job numbers and now looks even worse!

    October 5, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  7. Mike

    To read these responses from republicans they want to control the news. They don't believe in the first amendment. They believe the unemplyment numbers are a lie. We are to believe the "fair and unbalanced FonNEWS only. They care more about gaining the white house than they do in restoring the American dream. If Obama fails, they win even if the counrty falls apart. Yep, neo-cons are true and proud Americans.....NOT!

    October 5, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    ""This is not what a real recovery looks like,"

    He's right. A "real" recovery involves the "loyal opposition" putting down their toys and temper tantrums, recognizing that play time is over and coming to the table to compromise and get things done for the American people...not declaring that their "number one priority is to make him a one-term president," obstructing everything possible by setting records for filibusters, secret holds and nomination delays and spending 2 years in control of the House manufacturing crises over the debt and gov't shutdowns and enacting symbolic sacrificial legislation to fire up the base over denial of their domestic social agenda.

    October 5, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  9. Eskimo

    Are Obama's followers really this gullible??? YES

    October 5, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  10. Valar Morghulis

    Romney supporters try to spin it to their advantage. The truth is how unemployment is counted is the same this month, last month and the month before that. The trend is the numbers are going down. Maybe if Romney and his goons actually proposed something to fix the economy voters might listen until then best to stay on the current path.

    October 5, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  11. Don

    This is all George Washington's fault.

    October 5, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  12. Lagos

    I'm sure I don't need to point out that Romney is simply using the bad situation to his own advantage, but there are some fair points. If cost of living has gone up (Food prices in particular), and average income per household has gone down, are we really any better off as a country? We can debate all day about underemployment and those that have dropped out of the workforce and if those people should be counted, and it IS a good thing that unemployment has been getting steadily (if very slowly) better, but don't let the numbers fool you.

    October 5, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    a month before elections? I smell a rat, a chicago rat.

    October 5, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  14. bmckay

    This from a guy who "off-shored" millions of manufacturing jobs. Hypocrite.

    October 5, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  15. Bruce Bryant

    This employment number is basically meaningless. Other numbers such as Payroll to Population, underemployed, and those who have given up or taken a part time job to get by. This is a failure not only by the W.H administration to fully disclose the REAL employment picture, but also by the media (State Run Obama Media) to dig deeper into ALL of the jobs numbers. What a shame.

    October 5, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  16. Jyothi, St.Louis, MO

    Romney as a businessman is used to seeing hiring and firing left and right. Thats what he thinks about the recovery. He would have seen businesses hiring like crazy during good times, adding unnecessary jobs to a department and laying off when the business starts failing.
    Come on Romney, A country's economy cannot be handled the way business would be handled.

    October 5, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  17. demrules

    Oh I'm so surprised! I don't see how Mitt can find so much time to criticize the President. After all, he spend so much time whining, flip flopping, holding on to his wife's dress tail, criticizing 47% of the American people, killing Big Bird, LYING...and this list goes on and on! He is a professional liar and does it quite well! He couldn't put that many people out of work, by closing factories, and not be an excellent liar!

    October 5, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  18. Joe

    Hmmm..anyone remember McJobs??? That's what we have now. The media chided Bush for supposedly having low income jobs as not a solution. Where is the media now when it's really happening? Thanks for nothing CNN!

    October 5, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  19. Truth

    When Obama took office, the unemployment rate was 7.8% and the labor force was 400,000 less. Do people lack basic math skills? More people are unemployed now than from Jan. 2009, while the unemployment rate has returned to where Obama inherited it. This is not impressive....

    October 5, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  20. calvin

    Mr Mitt "The Twit" "Flip Flop" Romney will NEVER be able to relate to us 47 percenters. He needs to buy an island using some of his offshore assets and retire. Heck, he could buy an island where he's hiding his millions. Anyone ever wonder WHY a multi-millionaire (many times over) wants a job that pays about $400,000 a year. I don't think it's because he cares about the middle class. There are Re"pew"bicans in Congress just hoping and salivating that he'll take the White House. WHY ? Because he'll do whatever they say.

    October 5, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  21. SDG

    Romney is such a joke. Anyone who saw the debate knows this.

    October 5, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  22. NativeUSA

    only 114K were full time jobs, this is smoke and mirrors.....Most layoffs happen around the holidays.......so expect the smoke and mirrors number to disappear around Thanksgiving and stay that way through the new year regardless of who is elected. Of course if Romney is elected you may actually see full time jobs increase the very fist year, very first six months he is in office. If Obama is elected expect LOTS more minimum wage part time work............lot of it.

    October 5, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  23. semper fi

    From Horrible to Terrable is still not a good thing..

    October 5, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. Terry Vann

    The "extremely conservative" Romney wasn't appealing to most American Voters; now the "liberal" Romney is unappealing to the conservative voter. In the middle are the moderates, who simply know Romney is everything to everybody. The misstatements, lies, distortions and confused rhetoric are mind-boggling! Can't get votes that way!! At least not mine!

    October 5, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  25. Dan

    If the unemployment rate dropped to 2%, Romney would still say that he can do better. Just barking in the wind.

    October 5, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
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