The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s final jobs report before Election Day shows the unemployment rate at 7.9 percent in October, up one-tenth a percentage point from September. The economy added a surprising 171,000 non-farms jobs.
Both the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons was unchanged in October, while average hourly earnings went down by one cent to $23.58.
The unemployment rate might be the last chance Mitt Romney has to ride momentum into Tuesday, after stalled momentum this last week due to Hurricane Sandy that ripped through the East Coast.
“Today’s increase in the unemployment rate is a sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill,” Mitt Romney said in a statement he made while traveling from Norfolk, Va., to Milwaukee.
“On Tuesday, America will make a choice between stagnation and prosperity,” Romney continued. “For four years, President Obama’s policies have crushed America’’ middle class. For four years, President Obama has told us that things are getting better and that we’re making progress. For too many American families, those words ring hollow. We can do better.”
A different message came from the White House.
“While more work remains to be done,” White House chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Alan Krueger said in a statement, “Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression.”
Krueger added, “Over the last 12 months, the economy has added a total of 2.1 million jobs, as compared to 1.9 million over the preceding 12 months.”
Under the stimulus bill passed in 2009, unemployment was projected to be at 5.2 percent today.
The unemployment number has been highly controversial over the last few months. The labor participation rate has been at record lows and the Department of Labor botched a weekly payroll release by not including one “large” state’s numbers, thought to be California.
Last month’s unemployment rate feel below 8 percent for the first time in Obama’s administration, drawing criticism from some who hinted that Labor Department bureaucrats may have fudged the numbers.
One former Department of Labor official told The Daily Caller News Foundation the department is under a lot of pressure to get the numbers right.
“Because of the way the Labor Department has managed their communications,” Former Labor Department official Paul T. Conway said, “they are under intense scrutiny to get it right and to make certain that they are very transparent about how they present the number, especially when you consider the communications and unclear communications about the numbers over the last several months.”
A Gallup survey from earlier this week found the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 7.4 percent. Their payroll to population rate, what some consider as a better indicator of the unemployment scenario, increased in October to 45.7 percent in October, up from 45.1 percent, and the highest the number has been since they began tracking unemployment in 2010.
Teenagers are the highest unemployed demographic, at 23.7 percent unemployed. Unemployment among African-Americans is at 14.3 percent.
Of the younger highly unemployed demographic, Conway said, “They know that that’s not an acceptable threshold in order to start to get back into the work force and start realizing their dreams and their careers,” indicating that their actions at the polls Tuesday may be hinged on the pervasive youth unemployment rate.