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.

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. Johnny

    So this adds to the lies that Romney told during the debate. Unemployment is below 8%. Has to be heartbreaking news for the GOP but great news in a continued positive direction for America. This just kills any positive points the GOP claims to have gotten from the debate. It will be interesting to see how they will try to spin this one. Let me guess the jobs report has to be a sham.

    October 5, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  2. kate

    Mr. Romney...we are all aware it is not enough jobs. But it is an improvement. I haven't heard a sound plan from you for creating jobs. You proved at the debate you are dishonest...you said one thing on the campaign trail and another at the debate. You will promise anything just to get your family into the White House. Being president is more than that...it is helping people. This isn't about party...it is about people. You say you are a man of faith. Let us see it. You don't relate to people who are struggling.

    October 5, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  3. Jonnyboy

    Yo Mitt, how can Obama affect unemployment at all? I thought those 47% were just lazy mooches who are victims and want to be dependent on government? They wouldn't work even if the economy was the best ever right?

    October 5, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  4. Gina

    It is going is the right direction. Of course the Republicans would love this country to fail so they can be reelected to reinstate the same policies that got us in that original state. It amazes me that people cannot see this – I am an independent – I am way better off than 4 years ago plus I am concerned about medicare. He is pulling the plug (literally) at 55 – I am 53 – talk about getting screwed and for why – to give the rich pigs more money/tax breaks – BUT WAIT – he isn't giving a tax break – right pinocchio!!

    October 5, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  5. Wake up People!

    Oh Willard it could drop to 1% and you would still it wasn't good enough. You stood in front of the world Wednesday night and lied through your teeth, all the while wearing that smarmy smirk. Intelligent people knew who you were months ago, and it's not that moderate you pretended to be that night. Enjoy your bump Willard. You thought that meltdown you had after the 47% comment and the GOP attempt at voter suppression wad bad. You ain't seen nothing yet. You are about to get your magical panties handed to you on one of your own sterling silver platters.

    I'm sure the Romney supporters are going to say. Obama threatened them and made them lie about the unemployment and job numbers. I can't wait to hear the usual Faux Noise talking points. Everyone make sure you listen to Rush and Hannity, so they can tell you what to say and think.

    OBAMA 2012!

    October 5, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens was a failure as governor of MA, and he is rapidly becoming a bigger failure for the GOP.

    October 5, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  7. Mike

    I expected Romeny to say awsome not trash obama

    October 5, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  8. actionjacks7

    Romney and the repubs. just can't stand the good news. They wish the unemployment rate was 30%.

    October 5, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  9. tangledthorns

    I wonder if the 47 million on food stamps believe the economy is improving.

    October 5, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  10. CNN fan

    Romney is not happy to see unemployment rate going down....he doesn't care of people who are unemployed...he just said anything to win election....I am optimist about the report...Economy is getting better....We are gaining jobs rather than losing it...I think Americans now see the better economic growth...and Obama will be re-elected to finish his works...We need more than one term to clean up the mess that GOP left for us...

    October 5, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  11. pork&beans

    Oh. Him again. Never mind.

    October 5, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  12. Jeetu

    I don't trust Romney and his economics. He is just trying to appease the middle class by his well planned and crammed statements while at the same time making sure his rich friends to become richer. Middle class will pay for his tax breaks to the rich. He does not explain how he will cover the 5 trillion that he will lose by giving tax breaks to the rich. What programs will he cut and how that will increase employment. History has shown that reduction in taxes has not decreased unempoyment. Cutting expenses and federal programs decreases jobs.

    Obama's plan is sound and has been consistently creating jobs, though at a slow pace and we need to pick this pace by making investments in the private, public and government sectors. That is what Obama has been proposing and I think this plan works. Let us continue on this path. Vote for Obama and other democratic candidates in the November elections.

    October 5, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  13. rob

    Hey CNN, are your crack journalists digging into the highly questionable drop of .4% of the unemployment rate with the economy adding just 114000 jobs in Sept especially just 4 weeks before the Presidential election?

    We're waiting..........

    October 5, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  14. Wrenn_NYC

    "23 million unemployed" again. When Fact Check has stated that to get to that number he's taking the unemployed + those who have stopped looking for work + those who have gone back to school + those who are underemployed (which is not just part time jobs, but people who are working, full time, for less money than they made before 2009., and people, like me, who are contracting full time but in the aggregate effectively making less money – in that I have to pay for my own health insurance.)

    Say it often enough and people will believe you, I guess.

    October 5, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  15. Bootstomper

    I won a debate so I must be president right? I was completely wrong on my 47 pct tape even though I still believe it, I won a debate I can lie all I want I'm mitt romney and these are my toys.

    October 5, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  16. Jill

    Willard Romney spoke his true heart behind those closed doors labelling the American middle class. Don't let his recent spoutings about how much he cares about all of us fool you. He has been lying day in and day out and I can't believe how he can get up everyday and do this. Say one thing to one group and then go somewhere else and say he truly believes something else. He cannot be trusted.

    October 5, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  17. dreucalypt

    Poor Romney! What else can he say but this?

    October 5, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  18. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Mr. Romney when will you call on John Sununu to be more American? Shut up Romney, you're a liar and got caught calling 47% of Americans victims, now he says he's "completely wrong" . do the people who were laughing and clapping in that room feel the same way. We hold you responsible Mr. Romney because what you said was in a different setting and now your "completely wrong" statement is in another setting.

    October 5, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  19. charlou

    No matter what the Republiicans will always criticize. If they had followed the Presiodents lead with some of the policies or at least been fair and discussed the isues fairly that he presented we probably would have been further along in the recovery also,but as they said from day one of President Obama's term they were going to do everything they could to make him a one term President so they were not looking out for the people because they had their own agenda to go with trying to make him a one term President. Neither Republican or Democrat , I am an Indpendant and I am glad that I can say that I am an open minded person who have to be shown and not a lot of mouth. The mouth can say anything so SHOW ME.

    October 5, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  20. Mike Diana

    Great job Mr. President we are starting to roll. Mr. Romney who cares what you say your the flavor of the day. One day you say this and the next you say I never said that, Typical republican

    October 5, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  21. MrManhattan

    Gee Willard, sorry if our President didn't fix Bush's mess fast enough for you!!!!

    October 5, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  22. dog1

    Of course that's not enough according to Romney. Under his plan, not only will every American have a job, most will have two jobs! That's because, under his presidency the vast majority of Americans will need a second job because they'll be be earning minimum wage so he and his corporate friends can maximize their profits. And of course people will need that second or third job to pay for the medical coverage corporations will be able to take away from them, again to maximize the all important profit margin. But on the upside CEOs will get even larger bonuses and, if we're real good, maybe they'll let some of it trickle down to us....................................................White Horse Prophesy.........look it up!

    October 5, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  23. 351969

    Dufuss and Eddie Munster are going to get creamed.

    October 5, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  24. jinx88

    This is another prime example of Repukes don't want the economy to get better under Obama. Something good happens then respond with a negative. Pathetic.

    October 5, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  25. versus24

    Romney's tears taste good.

    October 5, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
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