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. Lori

    I'm shocked. Like he could do better. What a loser

    October 5, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  2. Larry Grant

    Do you think anything will be good enough for those who are trying to regain power?

    October 5, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  3. The Other Dale

    Romney: Why is fate against me? I did well bullying people in the debate the other night and now reality has to ruin things to show that Obama IS better than me. Oh, boo-hoo-hoo. It's not fair! I'm just going to throw a tantrum about the lower unemployment rate anyway and that'll fix it for me! If I can't get my way, no one will!

    October 5, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  4. VA VERY Ex Republican

    Of Course. The rate could drop to 5% and Mitt would still say not enough. Just disappear please. you are so sick. why can't you behappy for the people who got jobs and fresh start if you truly care about Middle Class as you claim to be.

    October 5, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  5. Maudie N Mandeville

    If enough Americans continue dropping out of the work force, the unemployment should be around 0% by the end of Obama's 2nd term.

    October 5, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  6. Laverne

    Glad Romney got 1 full day of gloating after the debate, but it is short lived! Obama may have had a bad night at the debate, but the truth is he will still win this election because people are smarter than what happened at the debate. That so called debate win was good for Mitt in the sense it built confidence once again with his base and helped him with fundraising. This fight is now really on and I can guarantee you in the next debate Obama will be on top of his game. I will add he needs Patrick Deval to be his debate coach. Gov. Deval knows first hand about Mitt Romney's records in Massachusetts and he is pretty fisty. He would help challenge the president with an "in your face" approach and how to put Mitt Romney back in his place when he starts his lying!!!

    October 5, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  7. 1twinsfan

    Always negative no matter how what the figures are. It's under eight. Deal with it, GOP.

    October 5, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  8. jennifer in Houston

    I imagine Romney would like to see the rate much lower so he has plenty of leeway IF he wins in November. Let's face it, if he is true to his word and uses the same old trickle down economics that GWB employed to bust the country, employment will go down the tubes again.

    Oh, my bad.. I said if he is true to his word. H'm, he's shifted position so many times we really don't know what he believes.,

    October 5, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  9. n'oreaster

    Is this the number of folks still seeking employment or does it include the folks who have simply given up? Methinks it's the former, because adding in the latter, we're still above 11% unemployed. As the old adage goes, figures don't lie but....;

    October 5, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  10. Mackmoy

    Chew on it, Party on No!

    October 5, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  11. bb

    An all time low of an unemployment rate of under 8% happening under President Obama's watch just pulled the rug out from under Romney and his strategy of the country is on the wrong track.

    October 5, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  12. Peter

    Romney said 'not enough" SHOCKING!!!

    October 5, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  13. wcbhwk

    Fact: It takes job growth of 120K per month just to keep up with population growth, so 114K is not growth. Healthy job growth in this country is about 400K. The unemployment rate dropped due to seasonal adjustments in the rate. This is a statistical phenomenon. Mr. Obama's campaign knows this so I doubt they will have too much to say.

    October 5, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The unemployment rate now stands where it did in 2009, when Obama took office. In a statement Friday, Romney said the numbers weren’t good enough
    So now you're going to change the "measurement" rules?
    President Obama got unemployment under 8% against YOUR Party's willfull, an unpatriotic obstruction, and because he's done so all you've got to say is "It's not good enough. There are still people unemployed"?
    Go tell that crap to the Marines.
    Boo-Hoo you and your cohorts were put in office under your false promise of jobs. Where are they then?
    Obama 2012.

    October 5, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  15. Peniah

    It is not unusual for the Repubs to downplay the Presidents acheivements. America wake up! Look at the facts and not Romneys lies! It takes time to rebuild an economy that was destroyed for EIGHT YEARS. Obama said it would take time and that is the truth! Anyone that says they can fix this economy overnight is lying to you. The economy is gradually coming around. I know people are used to fast foods. Romney makes his money fast because he sends jobs to China for cheap labor and quick returns.
    About the debate, One thing for sure- the President looked extremely tired and Romneys blatant lies left President Obama shocked and speechless. He saw no point attcking Romney because he expects the American public to be smart enough not to be towed away by Romneys falsehood. Women know this rule- the smooth-talking "too good to be true" guy who quickily changes his stance is a dangerous guy to date. You are better off with an honest guy who may not say all you want to hear but tell you the truth. Obama could not bring himself so low as to lie to the American people just to win a debate. That being said, Romney may have won the debate but lost the election. John Kerry won all debates against George Bush but he lost. Obama will still win cos Romney just wants to be President for his selfish interests. Remember, Romney does not care about the 47%

    October 5, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  16. Gary

    No American, who would be President in 2008 could have made the Economy better or worse in 2012... Makes no difference if you don't tackle the real problem. Which neither side is really willing to do.

    October 5, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  17. pastorjimc1

    Damned if you do, damned if you don't, OBAMA 4 more years

    October 5, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  18. President Clinton Said It Best

    "In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president’s re-election was actually pretty simple — pretty snappy. It went something like this: We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough. So fire him and put us back in." - Bill Clinton at the Democratic National Convention

    Despite the fact that the Republicans' number one goal was to make Obama a one-term president, he has managed to turn things around. Imagine if they hadn't blocked everything he has tried to do. The Republicans on November 6 are going to find out that the American people are going to vote in favor of reelection for President Obama. Americans are not as stupid as the GOP wishes they were. Republicans will not be rewarded for refusing to cooperate with President Obama and will suffer the consequences of putting their own political ambitions before the well being of America and its citizens. It is really funny to hear people like Boehner criticize President Obama when the approval rating of Congressional Republicans hovers around 10%.

    October 5, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  19. EDDIE

    Gee,couldn't see this coming.

    October 5, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  20. pastorjimc1

    Damned if you do, Damned if you Don't, OBAMA 4 more years.

    October 5, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  21. rs

    It is simply un-American, and certainly not at all patriotic when members of the GOP actually cheer about higher unemployment numbers, or complain when they fall- even marginally. The GOP caused the economy to crash, and for 4 years has done nothing but work against the President (and by extension, the American people) to make things better. They just want to "win" the game, and they simply don't care how they do it, whether that be voter suppression, gross lies, accepting millions of dollars from corpoations and billionaires, being the most divisive party ever (against Gays, Blacks, Hispanics, even women). Vote against greed on November 6.

    October 5, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  22. cocosegura

    Hehehehe... kiss goodbye to your last stronghold, Mr. Romney...

    October 5, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  23. Observer

    This guy Romney is in such disarray that I doubt that anything that spews from him or his cronies has any basis in truth. Romney is so lost!

    October 5, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  24. gt

    jack welch says the no.s are bogus.....unemployment rate is way abouve the 7.8....whats up ..who is correct..

    October 5, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  25. jpmichigan

    But no one adds those not look for a job, that number included would bring unempolment rate up to + 11%. Why do you think the numbe of people on food stamps has increase? Those unemployment, as well as those not look for a job have to eat and care for their family.

    October 5, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
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