Employers added only 114,000 jobs in September, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, but the job gains were enough to lower the unemployment rate three-tenths of a percentage point to 7.8 percent, the lowest level in four years.
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The jobs report provided good news for the Obama administration, as the 7.8 percent represented the lowest unemployment level since President Obama took office. The private sector added 104,000 jobs, and the extra 10,000 jobs in the public sector signaled a reversal in the trend of government worker layoffs. “The economy has now added private sector jobs for 31 straight months,” wrote White House economic advisor Alan Krueger in a blog post on the White House’s Web site.
The BLS also revised the jobs numbers for July and August, adding another 86,000 jobs for the two months, with 40,000 added in July for a total of 181,000 and 46,000 in August for a total of 142,000.
Employment in financial activities edged up in September by 13,000), reflecting modest job growth of 6,000 in credit intermediation and 7,000 in real estate.
The number of people unemployed for less than five weeks declined by 302,000 over the course of September to 2.5 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 4.8 million, however, and accounted for 40.1 percent of the unemployed.
Health care added 44,000 jobs in September. Over the past year, employment in health care has risen by 295,000. In September, employment increased by 17,000 in transportation and warehousing.
Manufacturing employment edged down in September by 16,000 jobs, however. In September, 6,000 job losses occurred in computer and electronic products and 3,000 in printing and related activities.
Despite the decline in the unemployment rate, the 144,000 jobs added in September is still not considered a sign of a robust recovery.
“This is not what a real recovery looks like,” said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in a statement. “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. If not for all the people who have simply dropped out of the labor force, the real unemployment rate would be closer to 11 percent. 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. The choice in this election is clear. Under President Obama, we’ll get another four years like the last four years. If I’m elected, we will have a real recovery with pro-growth policies that will create 12 million new jobs and rising incomes for everyone.”
President Obama tweeted, “More Americans entered the workforce, more Americans are getting jobs.”
Both Romney and President Obama called for lowering the corporate tax rate in their debate Wednesday night as a way to stimulate the economy (see Romney Debates Obama, Says He May Need a New Accountant).
“On Wednesday evening tens of millions of Americans observed President Obama and Governor Romney describing how they would fix the economy and create jobs,” said Elaine Kamarck, a former White House adviser to President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore and co-Chair of the RATE Coalition, a group that has been lobbying to lower the corporate tax rate. “It’s notable that both of their plans for economic growth include reforming the corporate tax code by lowering the tax rate and broadening the base. Just as bipartisan agreement cleared the way for tax reform in 1986, agreement between Democrats and Republicans today is key to tax reform now.”
“This morning’s mediocre jobs figures continue a trend of lackluster economic growth while unemployment remains high,” said James P. Pinkerton, co-chair of the RATE Coalition and former White House domestic policy adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. “Both candidates called for economic growth during Wednesday’s debate and they understand corporate tax reform leads to job creation. Democrats and Republicans agree the United States needs to lower its corporate tax rate. Today’s report means lawmakers need to act now.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, acknowledged that the jobs report contained some good news, but added that the pace of job creation is too slow.
“While there is positive news in today’s report, job creation is far too slow and the unemployment rate is far too high," Boehner said in a statement. "Administration officials said unemployment would be as low as 5.6 percent 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. 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.’"
Democratic lawmakers emphasized instead the signs of positive job growth. “Republicans say they believe in America, but when we get good news about America, they say don’t believe it,” said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., ranking Democratic member of the House Ways and Means Committee. “What they can’t deny is that the economy has added jobs for the last 24 straight months and the unemployment rate is lower than it has been in nearly four years. We still have much to do, but today’s report shows we are on the right path guided by the policies of the Obama administration.”