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. Lisahh

    Gotta love the math challenged GOP. While it is true that when someone's unemployment run out it causes the unemployment number to drop falsely, they fail to mention that the reverse is true when they do find work by not recording a further drop. It is all based on the GOP wingnut MYTH that when a person's unemployment benefit runs out that the "give up looking for work" or that they "drop out of the workforce" The GOP can be summarized with one word...STUPID.

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

    only 114K were actuall fu ll time jobs, this is smo ke 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 mini mum wage part time work............lot of it.

    October 5, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. Mike

    Many of Romney's supporters agreed with his 47% comments. Now he's retracting what he said (he changes his positions as often as most people change their underwear). That means that all those who agreed with him are now on the other side of his fence. All Romney does is say whatever will make those he is addressing happy. Does this country really nned a president who will change his positions at the drop of a hat?

    October 5, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  4. steven harnack

    Hey Boehner, since you cut the guts out of the Stimulus Bill you should be saying that YOUR Stimulus Bill failed. The President's Bill was never implemented. Anyone saying that "we should be" is purely talking through their hat. There are no precedents for the situation we were and are in. We haven't gone backwards once in the last four years and that is the only thing that you can judge the recovery on. Slow, steady progress beats the rest of the world easily.

    October 5, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. vicent

    it does matter how many jobs are added to the work force it could be 8 million jobs and the the unemployment rate down to 6.9 % the Gop is still going to say were not recovering fast enough. well since it was the great recession and similiar to the great depression what did people expect obama to wave a magical wand. the truth is its all rhetoric from the gop to get the white house. they act like they care about the joblessness in this country but to genuinely care would mean they would have to take responsibility for what happened to cause this problem. quick to blame obama but not taking responsibility for most of the jobs lost under bush. as well obstructing the president at every turn when he presented jobs bill to the congress and still obama has added 5 million jobs to the workforce something has been working

    October 5, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  6. cm

    Cannot wait for Run-ney loss the race, take your Money and Annie move to the Islands closer to your finances.
    I want to hear you speak and the expression on the face of yours.

    October 5, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  7. giggity

    I do not understand what the big deal about the clowny performance Mittens had during the debate. Big deal! he passed the short memory test.

    October 5, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. BigBlue

    I guess there is hope after all, the job creators started responding to the notion that there is a good chance that the US will divert it's path from a Marxist future back to a Capitalist one.
    Vote Romney & defeat Communism .

    October 5, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. Lisa P


    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
    I'm afraid you're the one who has been drinking the Kool-Aid - the Republican talking point has been unemployment *over* 8%, which deliberately hides the fact that unemployment has been trending downward for over three years from a high of 10% shortly after President Obama took office. Economists have been predicting since June that it would go below 8% sometime in the fall, probably before the election. Today's report is a surprise only to Fox News viewers and others who get all their info straight from the Republican Party's propaganda machine and have never thought to question any of it.

    October 5, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. Dorkus Maximus

    Talk is cheap, Mitt. What strategy do you have for increasing the pace of new job creation? Lower tax rates? That's been tried. It doesn't last. At least Obama has pursued investments in infrastructure that will have long term benefits for business.

    October 5, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  11. saraph

    so baggers, your boy Mitty now loves the Moochers. Doesn't this make your little brains just want to explode?

    October 5, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  12. givemeglenn

    If the Republicans in Congress weren't more interested in blocking legislation that would actually help put more Americans back to work, and improve the numbers even more, then their self-fullfiling prophacy couldn't come to be. In other words, they are the cause for the inflated unemployment numbers, and THEY are the ones to blame, NOT the President or the Democrats. All American's should be demanding accountability because of their selfish, self-serving actions, because what they're doing is stagnating our economy nnecessarily, and putting more burden on our deficit because fewer Americans are employed than possible. All of this manipulation is being done just so the wealthiest; the people who can afford to pay more taxes, will actually pay less. This isn't ironic, this is obscene.

    October 5, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  13. Fidup

    at this time of year, it always gets better due to the fact people start hiring for the Holiday Season, but Romney is write it is not enough... This isn't because of Obama's policies, and this will change in January when people start laying off after the holidays.

    October 5, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  14. Maxx

    Not enough says the governor who was 47th in the nation in job growth. There's that number 47 again.

    October 5, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  15. cm

    Cannot wait for Run-ney loss the race, take your Money and Annie move to the Islands closer to your finances.
    I want to hear you speak and the expression on the face of yours.
    Post it

    October 5, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  16. Truthbefreedom

    This number is going to be adjusted down after the election just wait and see. Also most of the jobs that were added we're part time. We can not be the super power we once were with most of our workforce working for McDonalds and wal mart. Where are the good paying jobs mr president? We are turning into a society where we have to work three or more part time jobs just to get by. All this president cares about is keeping the poor poor so he can control them by giving them scraps!

    October 5, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  17. op9114@yahoo.com

    "And how many would have beem lost, Mr. Romney, if Obama had not saved the auto industry that you would have let fail? " Doesn't matter what your opinion is, Lee, nor does mine matter. We don't know.

    We could go back and forth with biased arguments which ignore certain facts which don't fit our view. (For example, what was the cost per job "created" with the stimulus? What was the cost of the "green" jobs "created" by giving guaranteed loans to companies which contributed to the Obama campaign, all of which were lost when those companies went belly up?)

    Here's the question, Lee: How did the U3 unemployment rate (which does not count the underemployed, those who've given up looking, etc.) go to 7.8% while the U6 rate (which counts those which U3 doesn't count) stayed essentially the same at 14.7%?

    Yahoo News reports that "the number of people who said they were employed soared by 873,000" while "(t)he Labor Department said employers added 114,000 jobs in September." How do 873,000 people fit into 114,000 jobs? Part-time employment. Those newly "employed" are still underemployed.

    There's no reason to tout gains in part-time employment as a sign that the administration's economic plan needs to be kept in place.

    October 5, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  18. Mark of Tennessee

    Romney is an idiot

    October 5, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  19. Dan

    I don't know what's worse, the 30 commercials before every CNN video or the Obama defenders trying to save their candidate from the inevitable!

    October 5, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  20. John Robertson

    That's a lot of fast food jobs..

    October 5, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  21. cedaly1968

    It's discouraging to think that a political party WANTS unemployment to be bad so they can win office. The real problem that is going to impact Republicans is that in the event the economy is restored to full employment and normal growth at the end of a second term for a Democratic President with a hostile House, how will they be able to run on THEIR record of obstruction?

    October 5, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  22. Dorkus Maximus

    Someone here is saying, "Yes, but these are mostly part time jobs that people are taking to survive." Truth is, companies are splitting up full-time jobs into part-time jobs in order to avoid paying benefits like sick leave or vacation time. WalMart has been doing that for years, in good times and bad. The fact that the economy is soft only makes it easier for business "leaders" like Mitt to exploit the availability of labor and force workers to accept what at other times they would not.

    October 5, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  23. Saboth

    Romney: "I'm severely disappointed in this 7.8% rate. IT'S NOT ENOUGH! I won't be happy until we get it back up to the 11% we Republicans achieved 4 years ago!"

    October 5, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  24. Sam

    "Romney says not enough". Well, Mr.Romney, can you please say how much of it would be just enough..? That's right..you don't know like many other things that you lied about during debate. Probably you hope to figure our that in year 3 of your Presidency just around time you start hoping for re-election? Not going to happen.

    October 5, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  25. chilly g

    the republicans has been trying very hard to keep the job market depress because they do not want any job to
    be created because it will help the president. for the republicans its about party and not county.

    October 5, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
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