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. reasonablebe

    Oh, 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 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  2. bryes

    Unemployment was at 7.8% in Jan. 2009, when Obama took office, dropped to over 10% under his policies and has now returned to where it began. Is this a recovery?

    October 5, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  3. KJ

    Was there anyone expecting Romney to acknowledge the jobs number and unemployment drop as evidence of continuance of the recovery? He is a poor excuse for candidate and US citizen. So much of what he does and says is intimately aligned with the artificial Mormon religion. Don't get me wrong, I believe in religious freedom, but John Smith and Brigham Young are as valid prophets as Romney is true candidate for the Presidency. Fake person, follower of a fake faith, condescending, arrogant, disconnected and overly privileged...making of a President, I think not. We tried that already. Remember G. W. Bush?

    October 5, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  4. Smartstar

    the jobs created are Mickey Dee's burger flippers, Golden Corral waitresses and mob-up crews and sanitation engineers, ie garbage tools!

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

    basically what right wing conspiracy theorists are telling us is they would rather people be out of work than concede any point to President Obama.

    they're becoming a far greater enemy of the state than any foreign individuals.

    October 5, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  6. Benjamin

    If Obama got the rate down to 4% it would still be "far too high" b/c ROMNEY promises to get EVERY American a job. Those toddlers should not be learning alphabets but rather....should be on a factory line making diapers at a high hourly rate! Romney's stance is "no more freeloading". So toddlers, enjoy your free time while you can, and babies.....your next!!!!

    October 5, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  7. CGDoc

    It just means that 0.2% of us without jobs are no longer eligible for unemployment.

    October 5, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  8. Lifehope

    Mr. Romney , if you believe that the job number is not real but you alway agree with the numbers when it did not favor the president come on Romney, the only thing that is consistent about you and your political talks is your super inconsistence .American needs a president that will be very consistent on all issues so with that your inconsistence no one can trust your judgment

    October 5, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  9. GaryB

    Of course, what Romney won't tell you is that while middle class wages (adjusted for inflation) have decreased steadily since 2002, The earnings of the so-called "job creators" like Mitt Romney have increased tremendously. The fact is, government can't do anything about middle class wages if guys like Mitt Romney continue to make people work more hours for less money.

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

    anyone voting for Obama again needs to be SHOT...plain and simple! These people are as worthless as teeth on a bone!

    October 5, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  11. Foo

    I guess Obama's policies are working after all arent they Republicans? You can argue about how people have stopped looking for work and that some of the jobs are part time, blah, blah, blah. Its a fact 7.8%. I know its hard for you to swallow that but ya better get used to it.

    October 5, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  12. Ronda in Houston,TX

    Romney the Puppet Liar is a loser and he knows it. Anyway, why would Romney not wish the 114,000 people who now have a job, can now pay taxes and lift his burden of them being the 47%'s that he can't help?

    October 5, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  13. michael

    Were you better off before Bush trashed the economy? Now Romney says we are not recovering fast enough?

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

    It took 12 years to fix the great depression caused by liberal/classical capitalism. I don't know how long it will take to solve this crisis created by neoliberal/neoclassical capitalism. Maybe Obama should bring Keynes back into the picture.

    October 5, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  15. Tr1Xen

    It's amazing the spin CNN puts on everything. It's one of the reasons this isn't my first choice for news anymore.

    October 5, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. luke tearns

    what a stupid use of the word boon. Isnt the point of these elections that a president makes policiies which affect employment. and these numbers are a result of policies not some dumb luck or answered prayer as the term boon implies. more poor cnn reporting.

    October 5, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  17. michael

    Bush did nothing to stop progressively worsening monthly job loss at the end of Bush's term. Obama acted quickly and reversed that to progressively less monthly job loss. Republicans saw stimulus was working and have blocked all stimulus and jobs bills to impeded recovery.

    October 5, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  18. Nodack

    No number would be enough for Romney. He's trying to win the Presidency so everything Obama does will be the opposite of what he should have done. I think in the next debate Obama should declare that he supports breathing oxygen 100%.

    I have been trying to figure out what Romney stands for and have concluded he stands for and against everything depending on who he is talking to.

    October 5, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  19. Myto Senseworth

    I think Obama is going to win the election. Not on his record, jobs, or anything of real substance, but because the citizens of the US have been brainwashed by the media and Hollywood. Such a shame. Young people better remember, you have to pay for what Obama does, not him. He is an elected official and his future is paid for.

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

    Lots of commenters need to learn a bit about these two numbers: Unemployment rate and new jobs created. This months numbers were NOT good, and Romney is correctly pointing out why (Full disclosure: I'm voting for Obama). 114K jobs were created. That is not very good, and is not enough to keep up with population growth. But at least we're not LOSING jobs. And although the unemployment rate dropped from 8.1% to 7.8% this is NOT because lots of jobs were created (only 114K were created) but because people stopped looking for work and are therefore not counted as "unemployed". This apparent "mixed" economic report is not mixed at all. It shows slow job growth, which is neither catastrophic nor wonderful. Of course, if it goes on for too much longer it WILL become catastrophic. So please, no more hyperbole from EITHER side.


    October 5, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  21. Muffin72

    This report is complete BS and nothing more than a campaign prop. The timing of it is NO ACCIDENT. 63000 or half of the 114,000 jobs added are government jobs....in other words, Hussein is completely manipulating the job numbers in his favor before the election. Also – what is not mentioned by CNN and the Liberal media machine is that the number of people employed part-time is at an all time high. Lap it up sheep.

    October 5, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  22. Larry

    No number would be enough for mittens. He'd better relish that debate win; that's the last win he'll see this year.

    October 5, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  23. dagdthompson

    I have not read the full report yet, but I have a couple of questions: (1) When it takes 150K job growth to keep up with population growth, how do they account for that 0.3% "growth," when only 114K jobs were created? In order to keep up with population growth and grow the economy in order to get job growth down 0.3%, you should need something like 450K job growth, not 114K. (2) Where have all those people gone who were looking for jobs? (3) Last month the BLS reported that the Labor Participation rate was at a 30 year low at around 63%, what has happened with that? People can do a lot of with statistics. They can tell the truth, or they can lie, which one is this?

    October 5, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  24. FAC

    That's what happens when you tell lies...They blow up in your face. GOD IS GOOD!

    October 5, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  25. James Hartman

    The intransigence of the Republican House of Representatives has failed to derail a slow but steady recovery after the nigthtmare Bush years. Thriow those bums out and let's get this country moving again! We cannot go back to the failed policies of "trickle down" economics. I, for one am done with those "golden showers".

    October 5, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
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