With all eyes on the economy after this week's presidential debate on domestic policy, the Labor Department reported on Friday that employers added 114,000 jobs in September. That's a tad better than the 111,000 new jobs economists had expected. The report also said the economy created 86,000 more jobs than first estimated in July and August. Together, the additional jobs pushed the unemployment rate down from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September — the lowest figure since President Obama took office in January 2009. Here, a closer look at what the "unexpectedly positive" numbers mean:
1. This is good news for Obama
Coming off his rough debate with Mitt Romney, says Christopher S. Rugaber of The Associated Press, these numbers could really help Obama. This is the first time in nearly four years that the unemployment rate has fallen below 8 percent. Not only that, but "the rate fell because more people found work," which is better for Obama than having it drop because people are giving up and abandoning their search for work altogether. That's "a trend that could impact the presidential election."
2. But 114,000 jobs is nothing to brag about
Let's get real, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air: 114,000 is not an impressive number. The bottom line is that this was "yet another disappointing jobs report." If you look past the jobless rate and look at the percent of Americans who are unemployed or underemployed, the numbers actually didn't improve much in September. That's not something for the Obama administration to crow about.
3. Still, Romney just lost another talking point
Mitt Romney loves to recite the number of consecutive months the unemployment rate has been at 8 percent of higher, says Maggie Haberman at Politico, but he'll have to strike that line from his next stump speech. This news fits right into Obama's argument that things are slowly improving. Romney can still say "it could have been better still if not for Obama's policies," but that's not quite as juicy. A month before election day, voters notice things like a falling unemployment rate. That "could create a fresh challenge for the newly-reinvigorated Republican nominee."
4. And investors see reason for optimism
This is clearly a big drop in unemployment, says Avi Salzman at Barron's, which is why the news sent stocks rising. It seems that most industries are cautiously hiring new workers. With upward revisions from the previous two months, this amounts to solid evidence that job growth and economic growth are chugging along.