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US jobless rate falls to 7.8 pct., 44-month low

Friday, October 5, 2012

FILE - In this Monday, Sept 17, 2012, file photo, Robert Orkin of the company TxT-Alert, third from left, talks with job seekers during a job fair held by National Career Fairs in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent last month, dropping below 8 percent for the first time in nearly four years.
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent last month, dropping below 8 percent for the first time in nearly four years and giving President Barack Obama a potential boost with the election a month away.

The rate declined from 8.1 percent because the number of people who said they were employed soared by 873,000 -- an encouraging sign for an economy that's been struggling to create enough jobs.

The number of unemployed Americans is now 12.1 million, the fewest since January 2009.

The Labor Department said employers added 114,000 jobs in September. It also said the economy created 86,000 more jobs in July and August than the department had initially estimated.

Wages rose in September. And more people started looking for work.

The revisions show employers added 146,000 jobs per month from July through September, up from 67,000 in the previous three months.

The 7.8 percent unemployment rate for September matches the rate in January 2009, when Obama took office. In the months after Obama's inauguration, the rate rose sharply and had topped 8 percent for 43 straight months.

The decline in the unemployment rate comes at a critical moment for Obama, who is coming off a weak debate performance this week against GOP challenger Mitt Romney.

The September employment report may be the last that might sway undecided voters. The October jobs report will be released only four days before Election Day.

"An overall better-than-expected jobs report, consistent with most recent data that suggest the economy is gaining some momentum," said Sal Guatieri, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, in a note to clients. "The sizeable drop in the unemployment rate could lift the president's re-election chances following a post-debate dip."

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis was asked on CNBC about suspicions that the Obama administration might have skewed the jobs numbers to aid Obama's re-election prospects.

"I'm insulted when I hear that because we have a very professional civil service," Solis said. "I have the highest regard for our professionals that do the calculations at the (Bureau of Labor Statistics). They are trained economists."

After the jobs report was released, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 65 points in the first half hour of trading. Broader stock indexes also rose.

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note climbed to 1.73 percent from 1.68 percent just before the report. That suggested that investors were more willing to take on risk and shift money from bonds into stocks.

The job market has been improving, sluggishly but steadily. Jobs have been added for 24 straight months. There are now 325,000 more than when Obama took office.

The number of employed Americans comes from a government survey of 60,000 households that determines the unemployment rate. The government asks a series of questions, by phone or in person. For example:

Do you own a business? Did you work for pay? If not, did you provide unpaid work for a family business or farm? (Those who did are considered employed.)

Afterward, the survey participants are asked whether they had a job and, if so, whether it was full or part time. The government's definition of unemployed is someone who's out of work and has actively looked for a job in the past four weeks.

The government also does a second survey of roughly 140,000 businesses to determine the number of jobs businesses created or lost.

The September job gains were led by the health care industry, which added 44,000 jobs -- the most since February. Transportation and warehousing also showed large gains.

The revisions also showed that federal, state and local governments added 63,000 jobs in July and August, compared with earlier estimates that showed losses.

Still, many of the jobs the economy added last month were part time. The number of people with part-time jobs who wanted full-time work rose 7.5 percent to 8.6 million, the most since February 2009.

But overall, Friday's report dispelled some fears about the job market.

The "U.S. could be growing jobs at a marginally faster pace than feared mid-summer," Guy LeBas, a strategist at Janney Capital Markets, wrote in a research note. "Even with the issues in Europe and slowing production in China, U.S. economic activity does not look to be bearing the brunt of global downside, at least not anymore."

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And if you look at the US department of labor statistics (that calculated the new numbers) a new record has been set - now 54,000,000 Americans have dropped out of the work force. A new record and even higher than last month when unemployment was at 8.2%. Look it up yourself - record number of Americans unemployed when you add the unemployed to those that have quit looking.

How? It's a month before a democrat election...

-- Posted by Dug on Fri, Oct 5, 2012, at 9:31 AM

Yes, Dug. The 54,000,000 reflect a rise in aging population of more and more elderly people who are retired. Look that up, the US has never has so many elderly people before. They are not a part of the workforce.

-- Posted by Oakiefanokie on Fri, Oct 5, 2012, at 10:16 AM

Maybe you don't know the difference between "retired" and "gave up looking"??? News flash: Retired people are not looking for employment.

-- Posted by Dug on Fri, Oct 5, 2012, at 12:38 PM

So you're saying 54,000,000 people gave up looking for employment? That is 1 in 6 people in the US ( including kids and elderly). 54,000,000 is more like 1 in 4 of working age people which,by your assertion would be a 25% unemployment rate. Get real, there are not 54 mil unemployed in the US.

-- Posted by Oakiefanokie on Fri, Oct 5, 2012, at 1:26 PM

Actually, you are saying the current report of 12.1 mil unemployed doesn't include 54 mil? That's 67 mil unemployed in the US. The total population is only 319 mil, with 25% being under the age of 20, and 12% over the age of 65, which leaves 63% of the population between the ages of 20 and 65, or Approx. 195 million. So, out of 195 mil, 67 mil are unemployed, or gave up looking for a job? That's an over 30 % unemployment rate. You really think Obama is covering that up? Do you really think this is what 30 % unemployment looks like?

-- Posted by Oakiefanokie on Fri, Oct 5, 2012, at 1:41 PM

Unemployment at 7.8% is nothing but a fantasy that the White House would like for everyone to believe. Another big lie put out by Obama and his hichman.

-- Posted by grandpa3 on Fri, Oct 5, 2012, at 4:23 PM

Just checked the dictionary and hichman isn't a word. Must be another Obama conspiracy.

-- Posted by Oakiefanokie on Fri, Oct 5, 2012, at 5:36 PM

Oh, and Dug, I checked DLS.gov, read all the recent reports and there is no mention of the mysterious 54 mil. You mention. I would appreciate a link, because I think you made it up.


-- Posted by Oakiefanokie on Fri, Oct 5, 2012, at 5:50 PM

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