Unemployment Drop Brings Good News For Obama Campaign
As the economy remains one of the election's strongest points of contention and strongest determining factors for President Obama's re-election, September's jobs report was a welcoming sigh of relief for Democrats.
Particularly after a subpar performance from President Obama in the debate on Wednesday, the unexpected drop in unemployment gave a new boost to his campaign.
The unemployment rate fell from 8.1 in August to 7.8 percent in September as 114,000 workers were hired, especially part-time workers. It is the lowest rate of unemployment since January 2009 when President Barack Obama took office.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the average hourly earnings also increased 0.3 percent to $23.58. Of the 1.7 million marginally attached workers (those not seeking full time employment due to school or family responsibilities), the number of discouraged workers (those not looking for work) was 802,000 in September— about 235,000 less than the year prior. However, the overall labor force participation rate was little changed at 63.6 percent.
The industry hit hardest last month was manufacturing which lost 16,000 jobs.
"We're moving forward," President Obama said at a rally at George Mason University, The Wall Street Journal reported.
"This morning we found out that the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since I took office." That prompted a standing ovation from the crowd. "More Americans entered the workforce. More people are getting jobs."
GOP nominee Mitt Romney, on the other hand, gave less credence to September's unemployment drop, saying that "this is not what recovery looks like."
CBS News reported:
- Romney and other Republicans have repeatedly stressed the number of months that unemployment remained above 8 percent. Most recently, Romney said in his closing remarks during Wednesday's presidential debate, "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... We've had 43 straight months with unemployment above 8 percent. If I'm president I will create -- help create 12 million new jobs in this country with rising incomes."
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The GOP likewise backed up Romney's argument:
- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor called the unemployment report "encouraging news," but like Romney said, "it simply isn't good enough. 7.8 percent unemployment should not be cause for celebration. Millions have given up looking for a job, and left the workforce. The workforce participation rate hasn't been this low since Jimmy Carter was President. America needs a new direction."
- "After four years of spending, taxing, and red tape, millions of Americans remain jobless, underemployed, or have simply given up looking for work," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. "Wages are stagnant. Gas prices and health care costs are up. And economic growth is even lower today than in 2010 when the president said the 'fiscal cliff' tax hikes he now demands would mean 'smaller paychecks' and 'fewer jobs.'"
While the lower unemployment rate looks promising, economists are also saying it's still not at healthy levels.
“We’re seeing some firming in the labor market,” said Dean Maki, New York-based chief U.S. economist at Barclays Plc to The San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s still not booming or extraordinarily robust, but it is a labor market that we expect to continue to be firm enough to push the unemployment rate lower.”
“The economy is continuing to heal,” Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “Certainly there’s a lot more work that needs to be done, but we are digging our way out of a very deep hole.”
Interestingly, according to the Associated Press, other presidents who were victorious in seeking a second term, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, could attribute their success to sudden drops in unemployment that had occurred close to November.
Other than Roosevelt, no president has been re-elected when unemployment was above 8 percent.
The October jobs report will be released on Nov. 4, just four days before the election.