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. sarge

    Of course Romney would have created 114 million jobs, so that we would have had to invite everyone in Canada and Mexico to also come over and fill them...

    October 5, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  2. bb

    Wow 7.8% unemployment rate. All the hot air just seeped out of Romney's ballon.

    October 5, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  3. Bob

    Deeply regretable that the Republicans are actually gleeful when unemployment is high

    October 5, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  4. LCA

    Of course Romney thinks it is not enough....he knows he's toast when the economy imporves. This election may not be ALL ABOUT THE ECONOMY...but Romney has nothing else to offer but his so-called business smarts. He certainly has nothing to offer in any other areas from foreign policy to social programgs.

    October 5, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  5. Maria

    Fact: Corporations are sitting on a ton of cash waiting for Obama to lose the election so they can hire again. They want and need to hire, but do not want to make Obama look good and they are hoping Obama loses. Fact is, Obama won't lose and all these companies waiting for a big tax breaks from Romney will not happen and they will be forced to hire again because holding out for over 2 years, they cannot wait any longer not to hire.

    October 5, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  6. sonny chapman

    He's pulling against the American Worker for his own personal gain. So what else is new. BAIN CAPITAL !

    October 5, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  7. tucsonlib

    When will anyone on the right ever admit that this wasn't ever a traditional recession, it was almost a depression. It will and is taking many years to dig out of it but hopefully it will be a reset of policies in the housing industry that sent the economy into this mess and will be a sustainable system going forward. I get so sick of them acting as if they could have done anything different. If the businesses that they tout as needing the tax breaks in order to add employees were inclined to do so, why haven't they over the past 4-6 years? They have had all the tax breaks and aren't adding jobs. I just don't get their argument at all.

    October 5, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  8. Anonymous

    “The difference between ‘involvement’ and ‘commitment’ is like an eggs-and-ham breakfast: the chicken was ‘involved’ – the pig was ‘committed’.” Unknown.

    October 5, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  9. Thomas

    Of course they deserve better. But a lower unemployment rate than prior to the worst recession since the 1930's is excellent.

    If you were wrong about the 47% Mitt, how do we know you aren't wrong now too?

    October 5, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  10. Paulcat

    Romney really think the american people does not have common sense.
    Romney, the unemployment rate is below the 8% you kept talking about.
    We are moving in the right direction, why can't you admit that?

    October 5, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  11. Ed1

    The biggest gain was part time people that are season jobs will be gone after the holidays take that out and you unemployment at 8% this is nothing but a fake number since many more people just gave up looking.

    Wake up your King Has done nothing more than created more class warfare.

    Just remember we will all be paying more for health the original estimate from Obama and his subjects was 900 BILLION the GAO has now said 1.8 TRILLION double what Obama said it would cost.

    In 2014 Medicare will almost triple in cost thanks to Obamacare from less than One Hundred Dollars a month to almost Three Hundred Dollars a month can you afford it I know I can't.

    We can't afford another four years of a out of control spending and no leadership that has done nothing for the middle class except there are fewer of them now.

    October 5, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  12. c

    Miit Romney insulted Big Bird-who care's what he thinks

    October 5, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  13. sam

    i dont know why all these politicians spit out number like comman man can verify these data.ultimatley what will count is how they feel at the time of election and all this drama on televsion in form of debate will only end up as that. a drama.
    it is all media hype to sell their product and thanks god that keeps some people working and this also provide a common man as break from mundane rotuine in form of entertainment

    October 5, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  14. rhope

    “The difference between ‘involvement’ and ‘commitment’ is like an eggs-and-ham breakfast: the chicken was ‘involved’ – the pig was ‘committed’.” Unknown.

    Romney is the Chicken; Obama is the swine.

    October 5, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  15. Pastor Michael A.D. Smith, II

    I suspect Mitt Romney would continue to move the goal post just to save face. Just under 48 hours ago he hammered President Obama on the unemployment being north of 8%. Now that it has fallen, it's still not enough for Mitt. Interesting how he doesn't tell the real story that President Obama took office with a staggering 10.9% unemployment rate! Today's number is nothing short of a miracle! I wonder how the next Debate will play out; what will Mitt have to say then?

    October 5, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  16. betterdays

    "A four-year low of 7.8% unemployment."

    If you think this is a positive sentence, congratulations, you've bought into the New Normal. Now comfortable in your oblivion, you'll never know how much better things used to be in this country, not because the evidence isn't readily available to you, but because you are too dense to comprehend it.

    October 5, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  17. BLUE 02139

    Show us (USA) your tax returns...

    October 5, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  18. Fact - Unemployment rate below 8%, GM is alive and Osama Bin Laden is dead

    Killing Big Bird has been Romney's only big idea to date. This actually had more detail action steps than his Tax plan (which loopholes will you close in the tax code to offset his $5 trillion tax break). And now, Romney has to be a Grinch and try to spoil the good news about the unexpected unemployment rate improvement. Romney is unbelievable. Sorry to get passionate, but Romney talks so fast and is just plain confusing. Does Romney want America to succeed or fail? This is why President Obama is winning with tangible results inspite of coming into office with the most devestating economic situation in decades.

    October 5, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  19. NoName

    And that is the sound of goalposts being moved.

    October 5, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  20. jeremy

    he lies. he is a lier and dishonest. he says he is christion, he is a stand up guy. i do not see it. he is a lier and lies to the americans. He is a discusting man. good at fooling retards.

    October 5, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  21. Truetest

    Romney is a guy who's gonna motor mouth and say he's gonna fix everything on day 1. I will create million jobs, repeal Obamacare, bring troops back, create opportunities and what not, and Yes, everything on Day 1.

    There's no Magic wand, this is not a company of 5,000 employees, this is about running a country, the greatest country in the World. No real plan on the papers but going to fix everything.

    My Vote goes to Mr. President Obama.

    October 5, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  22. mark

    There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them..

    October 5, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  23. MightyMoo

    This coming from the man who would fire Big Bird from Seasame Street and put him on the unemployement line.

    October 5, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  24. smithdp

    Of course, If Republicans would just pass Obama's jobs bill a million more Americans could be working. Can't do that though because it is too important for Obama to fail.

    October 5, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  25. Myth Rob-me & Lyin' Ryan

    It appears the Republicans has done something unusual... They managed to get a complete ticket of pathological liars – "Myth Rob-me and Lyin' Ryan". President Obama made a mistake in staying on the subject and not exposing Romney for to blatant lies he told the American people Wednesday night. Next time it's hard-ball rather than statesmanship.

    October 5, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
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