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. Michael

    A small political victory? Sure. But to start claiming that this shows Obama"s plans are working is absurd. 7.8 percent is still really high and workers have dropped out of the search and aren't counted. I've yet to hear Obama explain his record and truly give details about what 4 more years will bring other then "wait and see" and "hope and change 2."

    October 5, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  2. tripper77

    these thugs will do anything to try to get Obama re-elected. Manipulation, pay offs, lying, all part of a fabricated Presidential bid by the left. don't believe a word they say and trust them less

    October 5, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  3. Drew

    The expectation that things can turn around in 4 years after the near depression we were left in form bush is inconceivable. Looking back into history it took FDR 12 years of his policies to get the USA back on track during times slightly worse then this... and many argue it wasn't his new deal that rallied our country to steam ahead it was the mobilization of the USA during World War 2 that did that. Regardless of what you believe, it took 12 years. Even if McCain was in office, we would still be in the hole we are in trying to desperately claw our way out. Regardless of not voting for Obama the first time, i will give him credit on stopping the perpetual spiral downward that our country is on, and his policies have allowed us to begin to claw our way out..... I will vote for him this time as I feel 4 more years wont get us out...but will give us the momentum to finally do so....

    October 5, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  4. Myto Senseworth

    Too many people have left the job market and my spouse is one of them. Maybe there were a few jobs available, but I'm not letting my spouse work 3rd shift at a corner store waiting for a gunman. (The number of people working is a better metric that would show more truth.) Whoever stated it has improved is full of it. Not only do we survive on 1 salary, the cost of living makes it worse. Obama's polices are a major failure and the blind followers don't see it. Unfortunatly we are all in the same boat, and people, it's sinking. Start learning other languages.

    October 5, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  5. 4agr8usa

    calling 7.8% a "boon" is a comment on how pathetic & anemic the last 4 yars have been

    October 5, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Did I already mention that I couldn't give a flying turd what Romney thought?

    October 5, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  7. TomVIO

    I think Romney has Multiple Personalities... He's like in the movie "Me, Myself and Irene". First he's the rich Romney who doesn't care about 47% of people in the USA, then he becomes the Romney who is trying to be like Obama, care about everyone all of a sudden. Don't worry, Romney will be back being himself soon, working for the richest in USA.

    October 5, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |

    I wish the somebody would tell Romney that sometimes when people FIND jobs they stop LOOKING for jobs. Another thing, how can there be 23 still out of work when in 2009 there were 23 million out of work and every month since Jan 09 the jobs have increased. Funny how that GOP math works.

    October 5, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. brian

    Thanks Mitt but I really don't want to move to India or China for one of these new jobs you will "create".

    October 5, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  10. Dee

    Well Jess, I hope you have money, you're going to need lots of it when Mitt is president - and that is just to stay above poverty lines.... Hmmm....

    October 5, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  11. TY


    Very valid points, when digging deeper into the report it reveals that the majority of the job increase was in part time work, labor department does not distinguish between full or part time work. Most people have given up on full time work and are taking what they can to survive. Where i work at I see more part time people coming into our department. WIth part time you do not have to pay benefits, saves the company money. I think we are going to see a change in the way businesses hire. Just my opinion

    October 5, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
    It does not matter people are working plus its not the President fault its the state (rep) RIGHT TO WORK.

    October 5, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  12. reasonablebe

    of course romeny says it's not enough..... all along he's been clinging to unemployment not getting under 8% (of course it s 10% when Obama got there in the first place) and that he will bring it down to ~ 6% (notice that would alsobe a 2 pt change (from 8%), but under upswing conditions, rather than as the world tumbled in free fall as it was when Bush left)...but now he either says it's not enough or he admits that things are in fact getting better.....

    romney the horse of all colors, changing whenever (politically) convenient..... don't go there.

    October 5, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  13. jj19549696

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

    October 5, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  14. Halkes

    I don't actually care about this article, I just really want to know: does anybody here even know that Syria and Turkey (a NATO ally) have opened fire on each other and are about to go to war? Why is this not front page news on CNN?? There is a very good chance that we will go to war with Syria very soon and nobody even knows it. Enjoy your debates....

    October 5, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  15. Oregon Calling

    It will never be enough for some............... Peace 🙂

    October 5, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  16. IHateLies

    The DoL ALWAYS adjusts the number the following month. Sometimes even months later as the accuracy of information improves.

    October 5, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  17. dagdthompson

    I haven't looked at the full report yet, but there are a few questions I have: (1) How many people dropped out of the labor market? Remember the labor participation rate for August was at a 30 year low at 63%, has that gone up? (2) In order to keep up with human population growth, the economy would have to grow at 150,000 jobs per month, so how do you account for that 3/10 of a percent "growth," when fewer than 150K jobs were created? That should mean that approximately 450K jobs were created, not only 114K. (3) Where have all those people gone who were looking for jobs 6, 9, 12, 24 months ago? Are they now on the welfare rolls?

    October 5, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  18. Kareen

    I have really no business mouthing off since I am a Canadian, but everytime Romney has his mouth open and ( usually lies) I like to punch him in the mouth.

    October 5, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  19. Tacitus Talks

    @Lee – Obama did not save the automobile industry – he saved "GM". Ford did not except the stimulus. And TOYOTA and NISSAN, which have factories here are doing extremely well. Stop LYING. Obama ruined GM.

    October 5, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  20. luigim

    This has become tiresome. If the president moves the wrong way, the opposition makes an ordeal out of it.
    Changing the unemployment percentage downward is a big deal. Did anyone expect Romney to give any positive feedback? As only one individual, I am very pleased to hear the good news. Romney should be delighted that more Americans are working. What a jerk.

    October 5, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  21. Ancient Texan

    Lee-Do you really think the auto business has been saved?. Chrylser is owned by Fiat and is doing well. GM went through the bankruptcy like Romney had wanted except, they were then given to the UNION that broke GM in the first place. GM still owes the taxpayers $42 Billion and will never pay us back and their stock is becoming worth less and less.

    October 5, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  22. mochica

    I believe that Obama did not show his best in the debate because if he wins the final debates he will be the clear victor. Besides this will help him with fundraising. Why has NO ONE mentioned that Romney, when accused of wanting to give student loans back to banks and suggesting to students that they should just ask their parents for money, his reply was "Obama gave money to Solyndra"? I want an answer!

    October 5, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  23. Tacitus Talks

    @Lee – Obama did not save the automobile industry – he saved "GM". Ford did not except the stimulus. And TOYOTA and NISSAN, which have factories here are doing extremely well.
    Obama ruined GM.

    October 5, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  24. 4agr8usa

    I'd like for the 47% to get off the couch, get a job and quit using my tax dollars to support your life choices.

    October 5, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  25. Mitt Romney

    "let the auto industry fail"

    October 5, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
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