Oct 5, 2012 / 7:24 am
President Barack Obama, reeling from a poor debate performance, won a valuable reprieve Friday with a reduced unemployment number in September that brought the jobless rate down to a level unseen since January 2009 when he took office.
The new threshold carries more political than economic weight. The Labor Department reported that employers added 114,000 jobs in September, slightly better than expected but still below levels needed to sustain a reduction in unemployment.
But the report held several good signs for Obama as he and rival Mitt Romney enter the final four weeks of the presidential campaign in an election dominated by the economy and high unemployment. The economy created 86,000 more jobs in July and August than initially estimated, a sign of the volatility of the jobless reports and their unreliability as a snapshot of the economy.
The Labor Department also reported wage growth in September, evidence of more people looking for work.
Still, Romney cast the new reports as further sign of a weak economy under Obama.
"This is not what a real recovery looks like," he said in a statement, noting that the figures showed fewer jobs created in September than in August and, that if people who have dropped out of the labour force were counted, the unemployment rate would be closer to 11 per cent.
The new numbers come less than 36 hours after the economy dominated the first presidential debate of the general election, reinvigorating Romney and leaving Obama on the defensive.
After Friday's numbers there is only one more unemployment report left before the Nov. 6 election.
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