US jobless rate tumbles to 7.8%, close to four-year low
By Lucia Mutikani ,Reuters
October 6, 2012, 12:10 am TWN
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to a near four-year low of 7.8 percent in September, a potential boost to President Barack Obama's re-election bid.
The Labor Department said on Friday the unemployment rate, a key focus in the race for the White House, dropped by 0.3 percentage point to its lowest point since January 2009.
A survey of households from which the jobless rate is derived showed 873,000 job gains last month, the most since June 1983. The drop in unemployment came even as Americans come back into the labor force to resume the hunt for work. The workforce had shrunk in the prior two months.
The household survey is volatile. A survey of business establishments showed employers added 114,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, a touch above economists' expectations for 113,000 jobs. Employment for July and August was revised to show 86,000 more jobs created than previous reported.
It was the second last report before the Nov. 6 election that pits Obama against Republican Mitt Romney.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday after Wednesday's first presidential debate showed Romney gained ground and is now viewed positively by 51 percent of voters. Obama's favorability rating remained unchanged at 56 percent.
Economists blame the so-called fiscal cliff for the slowdown in business hiring, which has left millions of Americans working either part-time or unemployed and too discouraged to look for jobs.
The Congressional Budget Office has warned that a failure by Congress to avoid the automatic tax hikes and government spending cuts that will suck about $600 billion out of the economy next year would knock the economy back into recession.
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