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. Yuck

    As an independent, I wish people would see past the 7.8%. The truth behind the facade is much more worrisome...

    October 5, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. Ryan/Romney Kill Medicare Team 2012

    Oh, no! the economy is getting better there go another leg off the stool of Romney's disdain for the 47% of Americans.

    October 5, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  3. Elan

    Usual Obama lies – many of the jobs that were added were part-time jobs and the unemployment level also decreased because so many people have left the workforce. As so many others have correctly pointed out, the unemployment level would be close to 11% if there were the same amount of people in the workforce as there were when George W. Bush was President. Additionally, Obama's lies continue with his claims that Mitt Romney would lower taxes for the middle class – as Romney has said plenty of times (but Obama and other liberals just seem unable to hear and process the words), he is NOT PLANNING TO LOWER TAXES FOR THE WEALTHY. How many times does he have to say it before it actually sinks in and Obama stops lying about it? I wouldn't expect anything more from Obama, who is more concerned about his re-election efforts than he is about actually implementing sensible policies.

    October 5, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  4. Kay

    Gee...such progress, and such a big circle. It has taken Obama almost his entire term to take us to the level of employment we were at in April of 2009. WOW!

    October 5, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  5. Sylar75

    If it was 1% he would say its not enough. The man is running against Obama. What did you expect him to say? Good job?

    October 5, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. Carl

    This is amazing!!!!

    October 5, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. Miguel White

    The books were cooked, lets get real folks. Suddenly 30 days before the election the jobless rate magically drops below 8% – and happy days are here again? This is like a poorly written comedy.

    Never has a president had such mass media support as this one. Lenin, Trotsky, Mao would marvel at how in a free society how this happened.... and the direction the US took during these years. So much for any healthy media scrutiny of a president...that went away with the myth of jounalistic integrity.

    The media today would make William R Hearst very proud, for they follow in the finest traditions of yellow journalism and muck raking from his era.

    October 5, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  8. Intruth23

    Simply amazing that Romney would say this is not enough! Most economist agree that the unemployment rate will drop to 6.5% in early 2014. Obama's policies have been slow but steady handed. We have purge some if not most of the banking, wall street and business practices that created the largest economic turn down in 80 years. Romney would do away with those and have us go back to the same trickle down economics (make no mistake about it!) policies we had under Bush and a republican congress. And how completely idiotic is it for us to believe that there are 23 million people out of work. Hog Wash! That number is grossly inaccurate and a flat out lie. Also has anybody considered the 10s of 1000s of jobs out there that are going UNFILLED in a high unemployment economy!

    October 5, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. Sylar75

    I could type fluffy bunnies and a moderator would have to review it. Freakin See You Next Tuesdays.

    October 5, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    U-6 is 14.7%….unchanged. Anyone can look this up for themselves! Spread the word everywhere that this announcement is BOGUS!

    October 5, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  11. Debra

    I know this will be difficult for Obama supporters to grasp but unemployment falling has nothing to do w/Obama!!!!

    It's because unemployment benefits are ending and once they end the gov't cannot track you....period.

    Try to wrap your small, little minds around that. Take a minute to figure it out.

    October 5, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  12. getalife

    Our country is on the right track. mitt is lying as usual.

    Four more years and vote out gop congress for their obstruction.

    October 5, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  13. Progressive Veteran

    This man is pathetic. His lies and mock concern for the citizens of America cannot be allowed to stand. The very last thing this nation needs is Romney worrying about anything beyond his special underwear...

    October 5, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  14. Laker fan

    So many people looking for full time work. Most of the jobs created are part time. Also there are lots of people looking for work who cant find work, who are no longer counted in the unemployment numbers(which I am one of them). Your numbers drop when you remove unemployment extension like they did in California. They did it just in time for the election time. Obama, lets see the real unemployment numbers and not this made up one.

    October 5, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  15. jofb716

    Love the U6 excuse. Just a different measure of measuring unemployment. Typically, we use U3.

    But oooooooooh U6 numbers sound high so, therefore, scarier.

    The U6 numbers were down as well. Thanks.

    Oh, and when Romney refers to the unemployment numbers, he's talking U3 numbers too.

    October 5, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  16. NewDay

    4 more years!

    October 5, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  17. getalife

    Candy should ask mitt to apologize for his "terrorist sympathizer" attack on our President with troops in Libya.

    October 5, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  18. Tish NC

    Wow Romney doesn,t care that more people are working?

    October 5, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  19. SearchingForAnAtheistExtremist

    Anyone else fine it interesting that the _same_ agency the right wing has been using to villify Obama is now somehow biased? How can we ever engage in rational debate when two sides can't even agree on the fundamental starting points of these issues? The level of absurdity between the two major parties is frankly pathetic.

    October 5, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  20. BrtokebackBarry

    These unemployment figures are as real as our security in Benghazi.

    October 5, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  21. Kay

    We were at this level in 2009. So how exactly have we progressed?

    October 5, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  22. USDude

    Obama claimed to be the better mathematician during the debate – I agree with him. Obama knows how to add to the deficit; Obama knows how to subtract from consumer confidence; Obama knows how to multiply the debt; and Obama knows how to divide whatever numbers he used to lower the unemployment rate for this "timely" report of "good news". I'm rooting for the square guy Romney (sorry, it's the only way I could get in square root).

    October 5, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  23. Jed

    Etch-a-Sketch Romney stated he would push things along to have the unemployment rate under 8% – since the rate is now below 8% Romney needs to go back home and leave the country alone.

    October 5, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  24. jo an

    Pathological liar Mitt wouldn't know when enough is enough....he is absolutely the scariest I've ever seen...

    October 5, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  25. Jacquie

    ROMNEY/RYAN 2012!!!! I can not believe you Obama supporters believe his and his administrations LIES!!!!

    October 5, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
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