Newly-released figures from the U.S. Department of Labor show the nation's unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent last month, dropping below 8 percent for the first time in nearly four years. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
The president stumped in two battlegrounds Friday, armed with new figures that paint an improving, if still troubled, picture of the nation's workforce.
The unemployment rate is now 7.8 percent, the lowest number since Obama took office. The economy added 114,000 new jobs in September.
"Today's news should give us some encouragement," the president said. "It shouldn't be an excuse for the other side to try to talk down the economy."
But Mitt Romney said the rate is falling only because people have given up looking for work.
"So it looks like unemployment is getting better," Romney said. "But the truth is, if the same share of people were participating in the workforce today as on the day the president got elected, why, our unemployment rate would be around 11 percent."
Romney is right that many people have given up looking for work. But actually, the number of so-called discouraged workers has fallen by more than 200,000 over the past year. Independent experts say that the unemployment rate has gone down, even as the total labor force has increased, with more people looking for jobs.
"At first blush, this does appear to be simply more people finding jobs," said NY1 business reporter Diane King.
The president's advisors blasted Romney's remarks as false. That fits their new line of attack against the Republican. Romney is moderating the conservative positions that landed him his party's nomination and Obama is adjusting accordingly. Romney isn't just a heartless businessman, according to the president. He's also a flip-flopper.
"My opponent has been trying to do a two-step and reposition and got an extreme makeover," the president said.
But Romney said Obama's record is nothing to laugh at. He is using stark language to warn of four more years with Obama in the White House.
"This is a critical time," Romney said. "If we were to re-elect President Obama, I don't think we would measure up to the test of time."
On a mixed day of trading on Wall Street, the Dow was up to its highest level since December of 2007.
The next jobs report will be released on Nov. 2, the Friday before the election.