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. Jay Dubbe

    A legitimate news organization would be questioning how the job numbers suddenly made a dramatic increase (and unemployment drops) weeks before the election...a drop that has not been this great for 20+ years. I mean, come on...are you sheeple really that ignorant?

    October 5, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  2. jj19549696

    Obama Protesters at Romney Rally admit that they are from SEIU and Paid by SEIU at $11.00/hour.
    Here is where all the new part time jobs came from.

    October 5, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  3. EricTheEngr

    This is EXACTLY what a "real recovery" should look like – slow, incremental growth. Rapid and unsustainable growth, also known as a "bubble", is only good in the short term. Those jobs vanish when the bubble pops, which is what happened to the construction industry when the housing market bubble collapsed in late 2008. So what is Mitt Romney complaining about? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. As usual, he's just saying stuff he thinks will get him elected.

    October 5, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. curious

    Why is it that better economic news for America bad news for the republican party. Where is their compassion?

    October 5, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. Charuz

    Yes, the overall number is not enough but we need to recognize good when it happens. Also, a drastic drop would indicate not that the economy is getting better but that there is something going on that isn't real and could sooner than later negatively impact the economy. It's like jumping off a ladder from the top rather than going down several steps at a time–one will guarantee a broken leg, the other, not.

    October 5, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. ZoeyKay

    Too bad Mittens!!! Obama did this WITH GOP obstruction – filibustering jobs bills and GOP governors laying off as many public employees as possible. And we all know there is no way you could pull off that hat trick, since you're the expert on sending jobs overseas, and firing people only to hire them back at 25% less pay and fewer benefits.

    October 5, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  7. jj19549696

    Obama Protesters at Romney Rally admit that they are from S E I U and Paid by SEIU at $11.00/hour.
    Here is where all the new part time jobs came from.

    October 5, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  8. chedar888

    What you need Mr. Romney is to shut up and let Obama do his job,

    October 5, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. dood

    Ole Mitt has turned this campaign into a comedy. Just waiting to see what he goings to say next.

    October 5, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  10. yesorno

    OBAMA 2012! Let cut the BS and Lies Romney and Fool news give out.

    October 5, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  11. jj19549696

    Here is where all the new part time jobs came from!
    Obama Protesters at Romney Rally admit that they are from S E I U and Paid by SEIU at $11.00/hour.

    October 5, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  12. gmenfan54

    My 20 year old Siamese cat has a better chance of being elected President then Mitt Romney.

    October 5, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. Blueman

    Please......7.8%, another load of crap and what a convenient time to serve it.

    October 5, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  14. Rick CT

    Right concept Shshshaw (post at 1:12pm), but properly stated, if the labor force participation rate wah the same today as it was when Obama took office (and was maintained through Obama's 1st 6 months in office), then the unemployment rate would be 10.7% today. Fact is the drop in unemployment has been fueled almost as musch by discourage worker completely dropping out of the labor foce as it has been by new jobs created, which if fact has not kept up with population growth.

    October 5, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  15. Mr. Ron

    ARe we talking about this Jack Welch???
    Welch's income and assets came under scrutiny during his divorce from his second wife Jane in 2001, after she included details in divorce papers of what she said he received as benefits from GE. Welch's contracts with GE were subsequently investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).[11][12] The retention package, worth $2.5 million, agreed upon by Welch and GE in 1996 promised him continued access after his retirement to benefits he received as CEO including an apartment in New York, baseball tickets and use of a private jet and chauffeured car.[11][13] These benefits were agreed upon in lieu of a more traditional stock package because, according to Welch, he did not want more money, preferring instead to retain the lifestyle he had enjoyed as CEO once he retired. According to an interview with Welch in 2009 this agreement was filed with the SEC. As a result of the media attention his divorce proceedings brought to his retention package, particularly claims that such a package made him look "greedy", Welch chose to renounce the benefits. But it was concluded that he is GREEDY!!!

    October 5, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  16. Joe M.

    They're a boon only for voters who hare buffoons who don't know that the rate went down only because 500K people were so distraught at the thought of the job market that they gave up looking for work.

    October 5, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  17. gmenfan54

    My 20 year old cat has a better chance of being elected President then Mitt Romney.

    October 5, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. BIGLARRY1047

    President Obama stopped the unemployment rate from going up at an all-time fastest pace and started it going down from an all-time high in just 45 months. That's a MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT. And that’s the answer to the question they love to ask so much; yes the country is far, far better off now, then it was four years ago. Not only did the policies and course of action of the Obama administration put this county on the right path to correct the proven unsuccessful prior administration. It has also shown itself to be the right direction, a bright light unto the future of this country. I say to President Obama, FORWARD

    October 5, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  19. James

    Jobs will keep coming back because of Obama's policies in spite of Congress unwillingness to work with him. Now think what will hppen if Congress does work with him in the next 4 years. A balance approach to reducing the deficit is the right thing to do but with so many republican lawmakers who have signed Grover Nordquist's pledge not to raise taxes, the right wing extremists will keep stalling the recovery. These peoples' only goal it seems is to try everything to cause Obama to fail. They have no interest in helping the average american.

    October 5, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  20. phactchecker

    it doesnt matter if it were 7.8 % or 2.2 % .. romney would not care. its about making POTUS look bad regardless of how well he does

    October 5, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  21. AW Messenger

    @Penny Wright show your source of data (otherwise you are simply full of it), and also show the monthly numbers for Obama :o) I'll bet Obama's numbers look VERY BLEAK, that's why you aren't posting them.

    October 5, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  22. TY

    Romney wants to make the rate higher, he wants to FIRE Big Bird. He likes firing people and than send jobs over sea

    October 5, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  23. Typical Republican

    Excuse, excuse, lie lie, "if you believe that", lie lie, stupid comment, lie lie, "the numbers are wrong, lie, stupid comment, racist comment.

    October 5, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  24. WachetAuf

    The biggest problem for Mr. Romney is that once the eyes of the evangelicals are opened to his inability to deal with the economy they will remember that he is a Mormon. It is interesting how that works. As long a Satan can keep attention on material things he is able to distract attention from the eternal issues. Once the darkness is lifted about the material things, the eternal issues start to become more important.

    October 5, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  25. jj19549696

    Here is where all the new part time jobs came from!
    Obam a Protesters at Romney Rally admit that they are from S E I U and Paid by SEIU at $11.00/hour.

    October 5, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
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