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Obama, Romney campaigns skirmish over jobs numbers

WEYER’S CAVE, Va.— The White House hailed Friday’s largely positive jobs report as evidence that President Obama’s economic policies are working, while Mitt Romney dismissed the slow pace of improvement, saying “this is not what a real recovery looks like.”

The Labor Department said the economy added 114,000 jobs in September and that the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8%, dropping below 8 % for the first time since Obama took office in the midst of a severe recession.

The new report shows 84,000 more jobs were added during the summer than previously thought, and that more people are entering the job force, adding to the positive news.

The drop in unemployment a month before the election offered ammunition for both Obama and his Republican challenger to claim they are better equipped to steer the economy over the next four years.

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Alan B. Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, cast the report as “further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression,” he wrote in a blog post.

Krueger cautioned that the report is likely to be revised, but said it shows Obama administration policies are helping Americans recover.

“It is critical that we continue the policies that are building an economy that works for the middle class as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007,” he wrote.

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Romney’s campaign has been energized since his debate Wednesday with Obama, and in a statement early Friday, he skimmed over the good news in the jobs report.

“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,” he said.

“If not for all the people who have simply dropped out of the labor force, the real unemployment rate would be closer to 11%,” he added.

Despite the skirmishing on the campaign trail, the jobs report numbers are unlikely to change the basic contours of most voters’ views about the economy, something most experts note has been set.

Obama is expected to address the new report at a rally in Virginia later Friday.

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maeve.reston@latimes.com
kathleen.hennessey@latimes.com


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