DENVER — The national unemployment rate dropped below 8 percent on Friday after a report that 114,000 jobs were added to the economy in September, a modest showing that is actually smaller than the total from last month.
But the Bureau of Labor Statistics also revised the jobs figures from July and August upward, dropping the overall unemployment rate from 8.1 percent to 7.8, the lowest rate since January 2009, the month President Barack Obama took office.
Friday’s news, coming roughly a month before voters render a verdict on the president’s reelection bid, is a lift for President Obama, a political landmine averted.
After losing more than 800,000 jobs a monthwhen I took office, our businesses have now added 5.2 million new jobs over the past four years,” Obama said. “This morning, we found out that the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since I took office.”
The crowd screamed. Obama continued.
“More Americans entered the workforce, more people are getting jobs,” Obama said during a rally in Fairfax, Virginia Friday morning. “Now every month reminds us that we’ve still got too many of our neighbors looking for work.
“Today’s news is certainly not an excuse to try to talk down the economy to score a few political points.”
Mitt Romney, who stood to benefit from a bad jobs report just two days after a resounding win over Obama in the first presidential debate here in Denver, missed out on what could have been a political one-two punch had the jobs numbers been worse and further deflated the air in the president’s political balloon.
Romney’s campaign was first to respond Friday morning, issuing a statement from the candidate.
“This is not what a real recovery looks like. 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,” the candidate said in the statement.
“If not for all the people who have simply dropped out of the labor force, the real unemployment rate would be closer to 11%.”
On Friday, his campaign released a new ad, which argues that while Obama “says he’s creating jobs, he’s really creating debt.”
The spot, titled “The Facts are Clear”, says that 30 cents of every dollar are borrowed from “countries like China.
“He’s not just wasting money,” a narrator says. “He’s borrowing it, and then wasting it.”
Friday’s jobs report, however, finally gets unemployment back below 8 percent, a benchmark Obama himself promised he’d achieve by passing a $787 billion stimulus package in February 2009.
That promise, based on projections that greatly underestimated the depth of the recession, took 43 months to fulfill, as unemployment has exceeded 8 percent since Obama signed the American Recovery Act into law here in Denver, peaking at 10 percent in October 2009.
The private sector has been adding jobs since March 2010; in September, it grew by 104,000 workers. Governments, where cuts have been a drag on the recovery, added 10,000 jobs in September.
Manufacturing, one of the bright spots that President Obama has showcased throughout the re-election campaign, fell 16,000 jobs after losing a revised 22,000 in August, and construction jobs grew by 5,000. The number of temporary jobs, a good indicator of future growth, fell 2,000.
The unemployment rate dropped even though the number of people in the labor force, including those looking for work, increased.
Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised August’s jobs gain up to 142,000 from the originally reported 96,000, while July’s total was revised up to 181,000 from an original estimate of 141,000.