As the US presidential candidates offered the electorate their "closing arguments" on Friday, each campaign had a chance to spin newly released jobs numbers in a strategic direction.
The figures, released by the Labor Department, showed 171,000 new jobs in October, amid hiring that "was stronger over the previous two months than first thought," the Associated Press wrote.
The unemployment rate was reported as 7.9 percent, up marginally from 7.8 percent in September, which the AP attributed to growth in the workforce. The Labor Department called the rate "essentially unchanged," while adding that "Hurricane Sandy had no discernable effect on the employment and unemployment data for October."
A higher unemployment rate indicates that more workers are actively looking for jobs; that, combined with the number of new jobs, shows a modest trend of growth, the AP said.
Reuters reported that the increase in hiring and job hunting offered "a hopeful sign" for Obama's reelection.
But the Romney campaign found plenty of ammunition to lobby against the incumbent. The Washington Post had earlier pointed out that "Democrats will argue that the economy is slowly improving; Republicans will argue that it’s not enough." That seemed to be about where the arguments fell Friday. Romney cast Obama as ineffective on the economy, while the Obama campaign tried to keep voters focused on finishing a recovery that the president started.
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Romney said in a statement, according to the AP: "Today’s increase in the unemployment rate is a sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill. When I'm president, I'm going to make real changes that lead to a real recovery, so that the next four years are better than the last.’’
The White House released a statement by Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Krueger in response to the report: ‘‘While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression.’’
So, whose take is most accurate? That depends on your economic policy leanings. As the Christian Science Monitor points out, there are several schools of thought on the best way to create growth.
Whose policies do you agree with most? Let us know in the comments below.