News / USA

Obama, Romney Spar Over Lower Jobless Numbers

Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at a rally in Fishersville, Virginia, October 4, 2012.
Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at a rally in Fishersville, Virginia, October 4, 2012.
Kent Klein
President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, are disputing the meaning of September’s better-than-expected U.S. jobless figures.  Both candidates were seeking votes Friday in swing states, where polls show the campaign is tightening.

The Labor Department says U.S. unemployment showed a bigger than expected drop, from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September.

Last month’s figure matches the unemployment rate in January 2009, when Obama took office, and it is expected to give his re-election campaign a boost.

At a campaign rally in Virginia Friday, the president said the improved jobless number is a sign of progress in the country’s economy.

“This morning, we found out that the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since I took office. More Americans entered the work force, more people are getting jobs," said President Obama.

As he does each month, however, the president reminded the audience that more work lies ahead.

“Now, every month reminds us that we have still got too many of our friends and neighbors who are looking for work.  There are too many middle class families that are still struggling to pay the bills.  They were struggling long before the crisis hit," said Obama.

While the president campaigned in the affluent Virginia suburbs of Washington,  Romney was seeking votes from coal miners in the opposite end of the state.

He dismissed the lower jobless rate, saying it was the result of more Americans giving up their search for work and not being counted in the statistics.

“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 percent.  That is the real reality of what is happening out there," said Romney.

President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event at rainy Cleveland State University, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012.President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event at rainy Cleveland State University, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012.
x
President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event at rainy Cleveland State University, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012.
President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event at rainy Cleveland State University, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012.
Obama said Republicans were playing politics with the jobless figure, and he insisted that the economic recovery was making progress.

“But 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," he said.

Romney, however, did not join some other Republicans who accused the Obama administration of manipulating the jobs data to help the president’s campaign.  The White House denies the charge.

The former Massachusetts governor did tell supporters he will do a better job than Obama of putting people back to work.

“When I am president of the United States, when I am president of the United States that unemployment rate is going to come down, not because people are giving up and dropping out of the workforce, but because we are creating more jobs.  I will create jobs and get America working again," said Romney.

After speaking in Virginia,  Romney’s next campaign stop was in Florida.

The president was addressing rallies at universities on Friday.  After his first stop at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, he went to Cleveland State University in Ohio.

Most recent public opinion polls show Obama still holding a slight lead nationwide, but Romney is pulling even in several swing states.

Most analysts believe Romney was the clear winner in Wednesday night’s debate, the first of three between the two candidates.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs