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. JoeFL

    So the magic number that MItt has been pounding for months is 8%. But NOW that its under that....well...numbers don't matter

    October 5, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  2. Tony in Maine

    A disappointed Mitt Romney hobbled into his private hospital looking for a truss to hold in the hernia he popped when he aborted an exultant pounce in midair. The unemployment rate was supposed to stay well above 8% and he was ready with the usual crapola.

    Wouldn't it be amazing if Romney and Ryan suddenly found themselves incapable of lying, spinning or acting like snarky teens.

    October 5, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  3. 333maxwell

    Of course the Governor has contempt for a 'better report'.

    That means one or two Americans are finally doing better, and that might complicate the mans personal political ambitions

    October 5, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  4. Jon

    Good news for the country is bad news for Republicans.

    October 5, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  5. Planet Kolob

    Romney would say it was "not enough" if unemployment was at 3%

    That's just the kind of smug man he is, thinking he can do better, when his plans would likely create waves of depression level unemployment.

    Learn from the 1930s folks, let' not elect another Hoover.

    October 5, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  6. Hmmm

    Clutching at straws, are we Mittens?

    October 5, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  7. Mike Texoma

    Unemployment was 8.1%, now at 7.8%; unemployment + underemployment + drop-outs, instead of 23 million working Ameicans, as Romney has said, standing now at less than half of that. 3 million jobs unfilled in technical fields. Mitt Romney can rationalize the drastic measures he wishes to take, starving the government out of healthcare and education and reguation in the name of economic "growth", but he cannot avoid the truth. We are not out of the woods yet, but we are on a good track and making substantial progress.

    October 5, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  8. Patriot Awesome

    I feel bad for Republicans living in their alternate reality.

    October 5, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  9. onlyfacts

    Romney's and the conservative hypocrites think we are all stupid. Does the idiot believe defunding PBS will improve unemployment. Many middle class PBS employees will lose their jobs. So why is Romney's plan ok? Confidence is a huge driver in hiring. As long as the right, Fox and Rush are spewing false gloom and doom many of their followers who are in the position to hire, will not hire. This is the rights plan and the blind can't see it!

    October 5, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  10. Sean M


    October 5, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  11. JerseyJoe

    Boehner is correct. With Congress' 'stimulus' package, the unemployment rate would be 5.6%... in India. China, Singapore and wherever else the jobs would have went after the large American employers went bankrupt.

    October 5, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  12. Lynda/Minnesota

    So, which Mitt Romney is speaking today, CNN? The "severely conservative" Mitt Romney, or the "I'm so confused I don't know what I stand for anymore" Mitt Romney?

    America has never had a multiple personality candidate before. And as humorous as that is, it becomes even more humorous when you factor in that apparently GOPers themselves aren't too concerned over what Mitt Romney may or may not stand for on any given day. I personally can't understand how GOPers can come to the conclusion that Mitt Romney stands for them when in fact Mitt Romney fully admits he stands for nothing each time he opens his mouth and utters his 180 degree turnarounds day after day. Guess as long as you tell them what they want to hear, they don't care that when he actually governs he will in all likelihood throw them under the bus right along with all those 47%ers he know realizes he actually does need to vote for him, and is therefore willing to once again pull a 180 degree out of the thin air but telling us how "completely wrong" he was to "dis" us.

    Yeah. Old Mitt "won" the debate alright. In his dreams.

    October 5, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  13. GI Joe

    He says he can add 12 Million jobs. DDUH

    It's projected to be 12 Million in that time-frame no matter who is president.

    The 47% in the red states had better listen to their instincts, not Lying Mitt - look at Lyin Ryan's plans.

    October 5, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  14. GIUK

    Unemplyment could be at 0 and it would be good enough for Mitt the Twit.

    October 5, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  15. DEMJ

    What was Mitt supposed to say ' Wow! I didn't see that coming. Maybe Obama's plan is working afterall'. Of course he going to go against anything that's positive and ride on anything that's negative.

    October 5, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  16. Sniffit

    Don't worry Mittens, Faux Noise and the rest of the Tinfoil Hat Brigade are extremely busy right now selling conspiracy theories that the administration somehow cooked the jobs report numbers...even though the Bureau of Labor Statistics is commissioned by someone who was not appointed by Obama and was commissioned for most of his term by a holdover appointee from Bush. Conspiracy theories = desperation. You may now return to your regularly scheduled Teatroll reality denial conniption fits.

    October 5, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  17. regan flint

    Look how the improving U.S. economy and the TRUTH are catching up with , ROMNEY. Debate or no debate , ROMNEY cannot lie and run away from the facts. 7.8% is not great yet but ROMNEY , is having less and less to complain about.

    October 5, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. Why Why Why

    I hate to admit it but I 100% agree with Romney's statement yesterday...he is "completely wrong"

    October 5, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |

    They took eight years to destroy the economy and want miracle so they can destroy it again. Dems all the way.

    October 5, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  20. GI Joe

    Maybe if he brought his money back from overseas and invested in the U.S.A. there would be more jobs. He is definitely un-American.

    October 5, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  21. zandhcats

    Romney, what's your plan to create 12 million jobs?

    October 5, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  22. Joey

    It is better than lossing 250,000 jobs a month due to FAILED Trickle down economic policies favored by the Republicans, Mr Mitt "Change your Position on Issues Daily" Romney!

    October 5, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  23. organically

    The Obama economy has dropped unemployment from 9.8% to 8.1%. Obama policy has decreased the government workforce by 370,000 jobs according to Department of Labor. America created 4.5 million new jobs over the last 30 months, including over a half a million in manufacturing, and over 1 million jobs in 2012 – a direct result of liberal economic policy, again according to the Department of Labor. Oh yea, stock market has rebounded to over 13K, and all other market indicators are through the roof. Most of the economy saving bail outs have been paid back to the federal government. Oil prices dropped for 10 consecutive months until the recent bump up, but prices will drop again this Fall as per most economists. Borrowing interest rates at record lows. Much of this liberal economic success is due to the initial implementation of the Dodd/frank bill, the Affordable Care Act, and other initiatives. As the economy continues to grow, we will be able to pay down the national debt. The economy is clearly improving overall, but all the right wants is complete failure by the president and will never admit when the president has been successful at anything. This is one of many reasons why these radicals are so detrimental to America’s economic recovery. The central ignorance of rightist conservatives is that president Obama is responsible for our national economic woes and joblessness in recent years, but this has been a global crisis. The increase in food stamps and poverty overall in the U.S. is a lingering effect of Bush economics. Obama polices have lifted America’s economy out of the disaster left behind by Bush, even though much of the world is in recession and the Euro is collapsing. The labor force participation rate is now at about 63%, lowest level since 1981, which is the result of (1) unemployed baby boomers who want to work but will be forced to retire early and (2) economic policy created by Bush and all previous Administrations. Conservatives like to say that the “real” unemployment is about 18% which might be correct, but this number has been dropping, too. Saying that the economy is improving “in spite of” Obama policies is the ultimate denial of president Obama’s success.

    October 5, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  24. Mac

    Sour grapes from the Head Mormon in charge. Guess the balloon just went outta the WE WON THE DEBATE meme.

    Neener Neener Neener.

    October 5, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  25. Van7272

    It's only not enough because who is in office. If the the parties were reversed in would be a accomplishment and celebrated.

    October 5, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
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