The final monthly jobs report before Election Day offered a mixed bag of economic evidence that would surely become political putty for the presidential candidates, with the unemployment rate ticking up to 7.9 percent but the economy adding a better-than-expected 171,000 jobs.
At the same time, the number of unemployed grew by 170,000, roughly the same amount — to 12.3 million.
The October numbers allow President Obama to argue the economy is technically growing under his watch. But they also allow Mitt Romney to argue that the new jobs are not making much of a dent in the unemployment problem. Both campaigns quickly set to work putting their spin on data that, if nothing else, underscores the slow pace of the recovery.
“Today’s increase in the unemployment rate is a sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill,” Romney said in a statement. “The jobless rate is higher than it was when President Obama took office, and there are still 23 million Americans struggling for work. … When I’m president, I’m going to make real changes that lead to a real recovery, so that the next four years are better than the last.”
Former Bureau of Labor Statistics chief Keith Hall told Fox Business Network that at this rate, “we’re still talking nine or 10 years” before the economy gets back to normal.
Both candidates are expected to address the report at campaign stops Friday, four days before the election.
The numbers stand as the last major economic report before Election Day, capping what has effectively been a two-year campaign focused largely on jobs — or the lack of jobs.
The prior September jobs report came as a surprise, showing the unemployment rate dropping to 7.8 percent, dipping below 8 percent for the first time since Obama took office. However, economists on both sides of the aisle questioned the accuracy of the number, and Republicans continued to claim that job growth is not nearly where it needs to be.
The October report showed the rate ticking up in part because more people were joining the workforce. The report reflected growth across a number of sectors, including health care and retail and construction. Mining, though, lost 9,000 jobs last month. And average hourly earnings dropped by a penny, to $23.58.
Obama has said all along that there’s more work to do, but has argued that electing Romney would turn back the clock on the recovery.
“We’ve made real progress these past four years. But, Colorado, we all know our work is not yet done,” Obama said at a Colorado rally on Thursday. “As long as there’s a single American who wants a job and can’t find one, our work is not done.”
Still, the president said shortly after taking office that failing to right the economy in three years would mean a “one-term proposition.”
Romney has called for a new course, and has described the president as out of ideas. On Thursday, he repeatedly mocked Obama for proposing a so-called Department of Business.
“I just don’t think another Cabinet chair is going to create the jobs that America needs,” Romney said in Doswell, Va., part of a daylong swing through the battleground state.
Romney plans to hit rallies in both Wisconsin and Ohio on Friday. Obama will attend three campaign events in Ohio
Source: Fox News