“The unemployment rate has fallen to the lowest level since I took office. More Americans entered the workforce, more people are getting jobs,” Obama said during a rally at George Mason University.
Romney played down the report, saying it reflected, at best, halting improvement. “This is not what a real recovery looks like,” Romney said in a statement. “We created fewer jobs in September than in August, and fewer jobs in August than in July.”
The September unemployment rate fell dramatically despite the mediocre number of 114,000 jobs created. That’s because the government’s survey of American households — which determines the jobless rate — reported substantially stronger employment gains than a survey of employers — which establishes the overall job number.
Some analysts say this divergence may have been a fluke, while others said it could signal that gains in self-employment and in business start-ups were not captured in the overall job figure.
The two numbers should even out over time, economists said. About 873,000 more Americans reported having jobs in the survey of households, the largest increase since 1983. About 456,000 fewer people reported not having a job but wanting one.
“The rule of thumb when the two surveys tell different stories in the same month is to give much more weight to what” employers say, said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute. “Nevertheless, the September household survey provides a reason to be a little more optimistic about job opportunities for American workers than we have been in recent months.”
The private sector added jobs for the 31st consecutive month, and the long decline in government work that has been a significant drag on the economy is reversing. Federal, state and local government added 10,000 jobs, and revised figures for the previous two months showed an increase of 63,000 public-sector jobs.
The generally low-paying retail sector added 9,400 jobs last month, while real estate added 7,100, an indication that the housing market is beginning the heal. Restaurants added 15,700 jobs in September, roughly their monthly average over the past year.
Manufacturing employment, which has been a bright spot since the recession ended more than three years ago and a focus of the Obama administration, fell by 16,000 jobs in September after dropping by 22,000 the prior month.