Unemployment Numbers Show Net Rise in Jobs During Obama Presidency

Friday’s employment summary by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) may not have shown dramatic economic improvement, but it quelled fears of a significant uptick in unemployment and showed a net gain in jobs during Obama’s presidency.

According to the BLS report, the nation added 171,000 new jobs in October, and performed better in job creation than previously estimated in August and September. The report also showed an increase from last month in total unemployment, from 7.8% in September to 7.9% in October. The uptick should not rouse widespread concern, however, as it is largly caused by the 578,000 Americans who officially joined the workforce in October and counted as unemployed.  

“Generally, the report shows that things are better than we’d expected and certainly better than we’d thought a few months ago,” Paul Dales of Capital Economics told the New York Times. “But we’re still not making enough progress to bring that unemployment rate down significantly and rapidly.”

The unemployment rate was 7.8% when Obama took office in January 2009 and peaked at 10% in October of the same year. The unemployment rate has slowly decreased since then.

Both candidates have used Friday’s report to make the case for why they are better suited to handle the economy. In Ohio, Obama told a campaign audience that "this morning we learned companies hired more workers in October than at any time in the last eight months," adding that “we have made real progress,” but “we know we've got more work to do."

Romney saw the same figures as proof of economic stagnation, telling a rally in Wisconsin that "unemployment today is higher than when Barack Obama took office.”

While the economy is undoubtedly still weak, the new BLS figures show that the U.S. economy now has 194,000 more jobs than it did in January 2009, a pre-election day boon for the president.  

The latest jobs report may not provide Obama with the push he needs to convince voters he is better suited to handle the economy, but with 32 straight months of economic growth on his record, it certainly did not hurt him. 

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Danielle Gram

Danielle is a graduate of Harvard College where she earned an AB in Religion and Sociology. After graduating in 2011, she traveled in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East as a Sheldon Fellow, exploring issues arising from conflict and crisis. Danielle is the cofounder of the international nonprofit, Kids for Peace (www.kidsforpeaceglobal.org). Her main PolicyMic interests include foreign affairs, domestic politics, and geopolitical strategy.

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