The September jobs numbers provided a shot in the arm for the political fortunes of President Barack Obama, and served as good news for the country. They were so good, in fact, that some Romney supporters claimed that the numbers were made up.
The jobless rate fell to 7.8 percent, matching the rate when Obama took office, and marking the first time since January of 2009 that the rate has been below 8 percent. The economy added 114,000 jobs in September, and numbers for July and August were revised upward by 86,000.
The jobs report was so strong that some Republicans insinuated that the Obama administration had rigged the jobs numbers, based on the evidence that the jobs numbers were stronger than they thought they should be.
Obama was cheered by the strong numbers.
“This morning we found out that the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since I took office. More Americans entered the work force. More people are getting jobs,” Obama said during a campaign stop in Virginia. He cautioned, however, that “we have still got too many of our friends and neighbors who are looking for work, and they’re two many middle-class families that are still struggling to pay the bills.”
Positive Job Growth Positive News for Obama
The economy has now added 325,000 jobs under Obama, even if you include the massive job losses in the first two months of Obama’s presidency, which occurred before the 2009 stimulus was passed. This growth undercuts the argument made repeatedly by GOP challenger Mitt Romney, who long argued that Obama had presided over a net destruction of jobs.
The strong job numbers were a shot in the arm for the Obama campaign, which leads Romney in the polls, but was dealing with a lackluster debate performance on Wednesday.
Supporters of Obama hailed the new numbers. “This month’s jobs report shows the economy is finally beginning to build some momentum, and this news could not come at a better time for the president,” said AFL-CIO deputy chief of staff Thea Lee.
Romney tried to put the worst possible spin on the numbers, issuing a statement saying the job growth “is not what a real recovery looks like.”
“We created fewer jobs in September than in August, and fewer jobs in August than in July, and we’ve lost over 600,000 manufacturing jobs since President Obama took office,” said Romney.
September’s job creation report was lower than August’s, but only after the release of corrections to the initial August report.
Romney Supporters Spin Conspiracy Theories
While Romney tried to frame the positive report as a negative, Republicans sought to cast doubt on the numbers themselves.
Just as they have attacked polls for being “biased” toward Obama, Romney supporters insinuated, and in some cases outright stated, that the Obama administration was manipulating jobs numbers.
“Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything…can’t debate so change numbers,” said former General Electric CEO Jack Welch in a tweet. Talk show host Laura Ingraham agreed, tweeting, “Jobs [numbers] from Labor Secretary Hilda Solis are total pro-Obama propaganda–labor force participation rate at 30-yr low. Abysmal!” And Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., tweeted, “I agree with former GE CEO Jack Welch, Chicago style politics is at work here.”
The Washington Examiner’s Conn Carroll agreed there was a conspiracy, but blamed the conspiracy on Democrats instead of Obama, saying, “I don’t think [the Bureau of Labor Statistics] cooked the numbers. I think a bunch of Dems lied about getting jobs. That would have same effect.”
Fox News’ Stuart Varney reported that there was “widespread distrust of this report.”
The assertions did not pass the laugh test, of course. Keith Hall, a former Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics under both President George W. Bush and President Obama, told the Wall Street Journal that it was almost impossible to manipulate the statistics.
“There’s nothing wrong with the numbers,” sad Hall. “The numbers are what they are.”
More to the point, the suggestion that the Obama administration was manipulating jobs numbers is simply incredible. If the Obama administration or Democrats were manipulating the jobs report, one would think they would have started before now.
The Romney campaign did not embrace Unemployment Trutherism, but neither did they entirely dismiss it. Romney policy director Lanhee Chen was asked by Varney, “You’re not going to say they’re cooking the books? It’s convenient for the Obama Administration? You are walking away from that, are you?”
“I’m going to leave that speculation to other people and just say that we’re going to address the numbers they’ve been released,” Chen said.
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