Obama's pleasant October surprise

Man demonstrates for good jobs in Charlotte, North Carolina 3 September 2012 Unemployment is considered to be a key issue in the presidential election

The president had some good news at the end of a bad week

"This morning, we found out that the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since I took office."

After his lame debate performance, he sounded as if he'd rediscovered his mojo, and there was steel in his voice.

The Bureau of Labor statistics report is indeed welcome for the president saying that unemployment dropped to 7.8% in September with 114,000 new jobs created.

The internet is alive with blast and counter-blasts. Some say this will change the campaign, others that these jobs figures, so eagerly awaited by us hacks, have no impact on the race.

What changes?

To listen to some people you would think nothing has an impact on the election. The fact is perceptions are changed slowly, by a drip, drip, drip of information and persuasion. Only truly exceptional moments change an election campaign overnight.

This is not one of those moments. But it is significant.

Unemployment was below 8% when the president came to office. It rose to 10.2% later that year. But this is the first time it has dropped below 8% in 44 months.

It has been central to the Republican message that it is Mr Obama's fault that the recovery has not been quicker and stronger. They won't stop making that case.

Mitt Romney, at a rally in Virginia on Thursday, said that the real figure, including people who have stopped looking for work, is 11%.

His campaign picked up on the reports that found the manufacturing sector lost 16,000 jobs last month.

It said in a statement: "Today's sluggish jobs report reinforced what Americans already knew - we can't afford another four years like the last four years. Manufacturing is in decline and 23 million Americans are still struggling for work".

But the news does matter. This is what it does:

It stops the media talking about Mr Obama's bad debate, the story has moved on.

It stops any narrative that things are going wrong for Mr Obama - imagine if unemployment had gone up, on top of the debate.

It robs Mitt Romney of an easy campaign point about unemployment staying over 8% under Mr Obama, but not his overall economic argument.

It suggests the economy is heading in the right direction, albeit very slowly - it makes Mr Obama's stewardship of the economy look a bit better, although there is plenty of room to argue about that.

It doesn't change the general view that the American economy is recovering, but growth is very slow, and jobs are only coming back very slowly too.

Not sensational game-changing news for Mr Obama, but good news for him none the less, and at the very least a relief.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    Curt Carpenter (193),

    “… he [President Obama] has been consistent to a fault in his policies and approach to both foreign and domestic issues ..."


    In 2004, as Senator he was a prominent supporter of a “humanitarian intervention” to halt state-sponsored mass killing in Darfur,


    What did he do about that once he was President?

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    before you start saying whatever you usually do

    "there are more unemployed americans than the greek population"

    was the point,

    You are wasting you time with your illogical proofs when you misunderstand points made in entire sentences

    It's illogical and hypocritical for GOP to cause failure and place blame

    obama's broken promises would be beaten by romneys broken promises

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    Curt Carpenter (193),

    “… he [President Obama] has been consistent to a fault in his policies and approach to both foreign and domestic issues ..."

    More foolish nonsense

    In August 2008, Senator Obama announced: "As president, I'll make our space program a priority again ..."


    We all know what happened to NASA's Constellation program.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    penchant for fantasy (ref here “Governments work efficiently as private sector” @206),
    You are getting annoying

    Mortgage Companies filling forms on computers takes as much skill as Unemployment Services filling forms on computers. With threats of job redundancies Government workers work hard and professionally

    12 million unemployed in USA is not small issue it is 12 million lives

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    -lock stock and barrel-soon start quarrel- (209),

    “205 the point is 24% of the Greek Population is less than 8% of USA …”

    Greek Unemployment rate > 24%
    Spanish Unemployment rate > 24%
    France Unemployment rate > 10%
    Ireland Unemployment rate > 14%
    Lithuania Unemployment rate > 15%

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    My finger in the air estimate wild ass guess was
    there are more unemployed in America
    than all the people in Greece
    12,088,000 unemployed
    11,319,048 greeks in greece
    700k approx

    Many young Greeks are working in Germany

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    Curt Carpenter (193),

    “… he [President Obama] has been consistent to a fault in his policies and approach to both foreign and domestic issues ..."

    Foolish nonsense

    1 Keeping Guantanamo open
    2 Bringing back military tribunals for terror suspects
    3 Ordering military action in Libya without seeking Congressional authorization
    4 Dropping Third Site missile defences.

    Flip Flop!

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    205 the point is 24% of the Greek Population is less than 8% of USA

    America has 12,088,000 unemployed
    Greece has 11,319,048 population

    Additionally there are some districts within USA that has same rate of Unemployment as Greece (24%)

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    McJakome (204)

    "179. Chryses I admit to a bit of overreach ..."

    Thank you. You present a better case when, unlike those who indulge their penchant for fantasy (ref here “Governments work efficiently as private sector” @206), you rely on facts rather than spin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    198. AndreaNY "Obama is a man who rises to great heights, but, once there, doesn't distinguish himself." Which also applies to:
    US Grant [GOP]
    RB Hayes [GOP]
    JA Garfield [GOP]
    CA Arthur [GOP]
    WG Harding [GOP]
    C. Coolidge [GOP]
    H. Hoover [GOP]
    All Democrats [NOT]! Coolidge and Hoover had an Obama-like problem of misplaced blame to boot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    202 he's clueless about recession which requires investment for growth, budget cuts works in healthy times, in recession they can stop all growth
    Spending v growth
    it is better to spend £1,000 to earn £5,000
    than to spend £500 and earn £2,500 (£4,000 v £2,000 profit)

    Governments work efficiently as private sector and can be streamlined and improved, most services are essential for society

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    -lock stock and barrel-soon start quarrel- (183),

    "Rates and numbers can be misleading ..."

    For the unwary.

    "... as there are many more unemployed in America than the whole of Greece as a finger in the air guesstimate ..."

    Greek Unemployment rate > 24%

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    179. Chryses I admit to a bit of overreach. However the Hovinds [father currently in the pen.] claim to be better educated than their bogus Bible College degrees, "Professor" Ian Juby only has an ug degree and has never been a professor. Others have legitimate degrees OUTSIDE the field they pretend to knowledge in, have "honorary " or diploma mill doctorates. I'll post more if allowed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    201. C

    He tried many times to find an agreement with GOP on the healthcare reform. That only delayed and made things worse because they refused to do a thing.

    Were the president to have been serious about bipartisanship, I highly doubt the stimulus and health care reform would have been passed without republican support. He had the votes and passed them without republicans.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    199. -lock

    Romney is far from clueless. He's been a governor with real budgetary responsibilities. He actually did go through his own budget. This is what governors do and why they know something about actually managing a budget.

    The inexperienced Obama promised line-by-line budget checks, a ludicrous promise but one that sold well. That promise didn't survive its very first challenge.

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    196: *yawn* He tried many times to find an agreement with GOP on the healthcare reform. That only delayed and made things worse because they refused to do a thing. And what about the gop putting non budget related things into a budget bill? Or often going into recess amid crises? Real truth to 'if pro is the opposite of con, what is the opposite of progress?', and Twain's quote and Vidal's quote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    Jay (185),

    "@ 168. Chryses
    There are ROTC programs at Yale, Harvard and Columbia, all Ivy League schools.
    Columbia University opposed military recruiting on campus ..."

    Ah, so the ROTC programs at those Ivy League campuses are not military recruiting?
    If you say so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    198 You are not coming to terms with reality, fighting away.

    Romney hacking Government Services clueless about his own direction will not save money or improve the economy it would probably kill it.

    Obama's trickling down Government is slowly achieving growth through investment. Romney won a battle but lost the war, and is not coming through

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    192. -lock

    It is not partisan to state these are not good employment figures. Rather, it's partisan to pretend they are.

    Obama is asking for another 4 years as president. The first four were handed to him. The next 4 he has to earn.

    Obama is a man who rises to great heights, but, once there, doesn't distinguish himself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    There isn't any point in Romney wasting his precious time and effort developing a working plan unless he gets elected... but he won't get anywhere without a plan hoping people vote shallow

    Cutting services in recession will make recovery take even longer and might cause economic and widespread mental depression


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