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. mark

    There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them..

    -Mitt Romney

    October 5, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  2. Mike

    Hummm, so at 8.1% there are ~23,000,000 people out of work. So 23,000.000/8.1 = 2,825,553 for 1% x 0.3 percent (8.1%-7.8%) = 847,665 net jobs gained in September. Somehow the math dose not add up?

    October 5, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. Harry From Pa

    Not enough, false, I love what repubs are crying about. They just lost their talking point against Obama. What is fake and false is their candidate Romney. You don't know if he is coming or going or what his position is on anything. And he lies so easily.

    October 5, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. Corey

    You clowns can't be serious? How does 104,000 jobs drop the employment rate .4 percent? I guess if people are stupid enough to vote for Obama, they deserve what they get, cos he'll be coming after you next.

    October 5, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  5. freelance

    this is a good jobs report. Why are so many folks upset over a good report?

    October 5, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  6. Pritch

    Unemployment going down, without a corresponding significant increase in jobs simply means that people have dropped off of unemployment benefits. 114,000 jobs is not enough to cause a dip in unemployment. There needs to be 30 straight months of new job numbers in the 230,000 range to make up for all the jobs lost. The decrease in the current unemployment rate indicates people stopping looking for jobs.

    October 5, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  7. GoGo the Truth

    Here is what Penny wrote:
    America has added 5 million private sector jobs since the stimulus.

    Here’s what Bush left us with.....

    Aug 2008 – 334,000 net JOBS LOST
    Sep 2008 – 458,000 net JOBS LOST
    Oct 2008 – 554,000 net JOBS LOST
    Nov 2008 – 728,000 net JOBS LOST
    Dec 2008 – 673,000 net JOBS LOST
    Jan 2009 – 779,000 net JOBS LOST

    Why talk about private sector jobs with Obama, but net Jobs with Bush? Compare apples to apples. The truth is because alot of government jobs are getting moved to the private sector, so if you compared net jobs with Obama, then the number would look alot less appealing.

    BOO YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 5, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  8. llatpoh

    "After Obama guidance, Lockheed won't issue layoff notices this year"... the numbers are meaningless

    October 5, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |

    Go figure. I didn't see this coming. Let me guess, in October we will have an unemployment rate of 6.1%. So while the gov is pretending that there is job growth we keep loosing jobs. Do the math people. Even former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, said: "Unbelievable jobs numbers these Chicago guys will do anything, can't debate so change numbers." I am not a republican, but I can not stand next to a president that will not speak to the real numbers.

    October 5, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  10. Archie

    Mitt in trouble..

    October 5, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  11. Jake

    If Romney had any credibility and honesty, he would blame GWB for the disaster we had. But this POS won't blame that fool who cause the misery.

    October 5, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  12. organically

    The Obama economy has pulled us out of the Bush disaster and dropped unemployment from 9.8% to 7.8%. Obama policy has decreased the government workforce by 370,000 jobs according to Department of Labor. America created 4.5 million new jobs over the last 30 months, including over a half a million in manufacturing, and over 1 million jobs in 2012 – a direct result of liberal economic policy, again according to the Department of Labor. Oh yea, stock market has rebounded to over 13K, and all other market indicators are through the roof. Most of the economy saving bail outs have been paid back to the federal government. Oil prices dropped for 10 consecutive months until the recent bump up, but prices will drop again this Fall as per most economists. Borrowing interest rates at record lows. Much of this liberal economic success is due to the initial implementation of the Dodd/frank bill, the Affordable Care Act, and other initiatives. As the economy continues to grow, we will be able to pay down the national debt. The economy is clearly improving overall, but all the right wants is complete failure by the president and will never admit when the president has been successful at anything. This is one of many reasons why these radicals are so detrimental to America’s economic recovery. The central ignorance of rightist conservatives is that president Obama is responsible for our national economic woes and joblessness in recent years, but this has been a global crisis. The increase in food stamps and poverty overall in the U.S. is a lingering effect of Bush economics. Obama polices have lifted America’s economy out of the disaster left behind by Bush, even though much of the world is in recession and the Euro is collapsing. The labor force participation rate is now at about 63%, lowest level since 1981, which is the result of (1) unemployed baby boomers who want to work but will be forced to retire early and (2) economic policy created by Bush and all previous Administrations. Conservatives like to say that the “real” unemployment is about 18% which might be correct, but this number has been dropping, too. Saying that the economy is improving “in spite of” Obama policies is the ultimate denial of president Obama’s success.

    October 5, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. Matthew Jones

    This is awesome. What is Romney going to run on now? Obama policies: Working.

    October 5, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  14. daveinla

    Jobs. What a joke. We have not had REAL manufacturing jobs in America since the mid-1990's. Dems-GOP, both liars and China's yes men.

    October 5, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Penny, why don't you count the years from 2001-2007 under the Bush administration?

    October 5, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  16. Hairy1

    RetNavy2001, great point. You Obama zombies believe what you want to. His economy nearly 4 years later is still horrible. The 7-eleven jobs aren't gonna cut it...

    October 5, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  17. tjcafe

    You can be sure that if the unemployment rate went up by the same amount, the Romney fabricators would be calling it real and accurate.

    October 5, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  18. r

    Try maybe 18%.

    October 5, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  19. Publius Novus

    "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%." True enough. And if the conservative, right-wing policies of the Bush/Cheney Administration hadn't used up the Clinton/Gore surplus, we'd have a surplus rather than a deficit. If the conservative, right-wing policies of the Bush/Cheney Administration hadn't crashed the economy, unemployment would be 3.5%. If people didn't keep retiring, the unemployment rate would be higher. If pigs had wings, they could fly. If . . . .

    October 5, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  20. Mike

    It's easy to be a back seat driver.

    October 5, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  21. TomVIO

    I bet that out of those 23 million people that are considered unemployed, probably half are working without showing (getting paid CASH).

    Instead of fighting the war on drugs which is clearly not working. (At least stop wasting $$$ to catch people who smoke marijuanna) and use that $$$ to crack down on illegal workforce.

    When I say, illegal workforce, I don't mean people who are in the USA illegally. Many people who are citizens work without stating it and get paid cash. These people are not counted in the employed numbers and they don't pay any tax at all. 0%...

    So, get more investigation going on for this and you'll see that unemployement rate will fall by a lot and tax revenue will rise too.

    October 5, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  22. Puru

    Jack Welch could have kept his legacy alive being a great CEO but unfortunately he has taking different direction to discredit all the work he had done all his life. Do a ffavour yourself Jack during your golden retirement.
    Jack be brave like before and apologize to American people, please do not join the Donald Trump team, there is no body in the world including Mitt flip flol respect Donald now.

    October 5, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  23. USA

    I know I cant be the only person that finds it odd that Obama gets his azz handed to him two days ago in the debate and all of the sudden two days later the jobs report is in his favor.....hmmmmmmmm I smell a RAT!!! The Liberals are desperate!!!

    October 5, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  24. John

    Of course it's not enough for Romney. What else could he say? He wouldn't be happy unless the unemployment numbers were at 25% and above. The only way he figures to win is if the economy is bad, so he's betting against its improving.

    October 5, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. Rick CT

    114K new jobs created by one survey and 850K more people employed by the other. Never have the 2 surveys been so far apart. Data is certainly questionable. Not saying it's manipulated, but its credibility must be challenged.

    October 5, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
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