President Obama speaks during a campaign event Friday at George Mason University… (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez…)
WASHINGTON -- The White House and Democrats trumpeted the sharp drop in the unemployment rate Friday to 7.8% -- the lowest since January 2009 -- as a signal President Obama's policies are working.
But Republicans said the economy still was not producing enough jobs and it was time for Obama to go.
The September unemployment report by the Labor Department, which also showed that the economy added 114,000 new jobs, was the focus of both political parties as the presidential campaign heads into its final month.
"This morning, we found out that the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since I took office," Obama told cheering supporters at a campaign appearance in Fairfax, Va. "More Americans entered the workforce, more people are getting jobs."
Obama and his aides noted there are still too many people unemployed, but said the jobs report showed the economy is moving in the right direction.
Congressional Democrats cheered the drop in the unemployment rate from 8.1%, ending 43 straight months above 8%.
"Today's jobs report marks the lowest unemployment rate in four years, but we have more work to do," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco).
Added Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose), "We haven't won the war on unemployment, but we've reached a significant milestone."
But Republicans said there still were far too many people out of work.
“This is not what a real recovery looks like," said Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate. "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 choice in this election is clear. Under President Obama, we’ll get another four years like the last four years," Romney said. "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.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said that "7.8% unemployment should not be cause for celebration."
And House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) noted the unemployment rate is far higher than Obama promised when he pushed his $831 billion stimulus package shortly after taking office.
“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.
"Administration officials said unemployment would be as low as 5.6 percent by now if Congress passed their 'stimulus' spending bill," he continued. "Instead, after four years of spending, taxing and red tape, millions of Americans remain jobless, underemployed, or have simply given up looking for work."
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