US President Barack Obama was given a much needed boost in his White House re-election bid after figures released Friday showed the country's unemployment rate had fallen to its lowest level in almost four years.
President Barack Obama on Friday hailed the drop in the U.S. jobless rate in September to the lowest level since he took office as a “a reminder this country has come too far to turn back now.”
The decline in the unemployment rate, at its lowest level since January 2009, is expected to give a boost to his re-election campaign, just a month before the country goes to the polls.
“More Americans entered the workforce, more people are getting jobs,” Obama told a campaign rally at George Mason University in Virginia. “Now, every month reminds us that we’ve still got too many friends and neighbours who are looking for work.”
President Barack Obama’s lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney has narrowed to just 2 percentage points since Romney’s strong performance in their first debate, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday.
In more bad news for Obama, one in five voters said the Democrat’s performance in the contest in Denver on Wednesday made them feel more negative about him, while almost a third said they felt more positive about Romney.
The online poll conducted from Monday to Friday showed 46 percent of likely voters backed Obama, versus 44 percent for Romney. Obama had led by 48 to 43 percent in Thursday’s daily tracking poll, the first to include a day of interviews after the debate.
“Today’s news is certainly not an excuse to try to talk down the economy to score a few political points,” he said.
The rate declined from 8.1 percent because the number of people who said they were employed soared by 873,000 an encouraging sign for an economy that’s been struggling to create enough jobs.
The number of unemployed Americans is now 12.1 million, the fewest since January 2009.
Romney disputes recovery
The decline in the unemployment rate comes at a critical moment for Obama, who is coming off a weak debate performance this week against Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who disputed the drop in unemployment as a sign the US was getting back on its feet.
He also noted that manufacturing has lost 600,000 jobs since Obama took office.
“This is not what a real recovery looks like,” Romney said in a statement.
The Republican candidate had earlier tried to repair damage caused by disparaging remarks he made on a secretly taped video. Romney admitted that his description of 47 percent of US voters as dependent on government was “completely wrong”. The comments were made at a private fundraiser in May.
(France 24 with wires)
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