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WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent last month, dropping below 8 percent for the first time in nearly four years and giving President Barack Obama a potential boost with the election a month away.

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.

The Labor Department said employers added 114,000 jobs in September. It also said the economy created 86,000 more jobs in July and August than the department had initially estimated.

Wages rose in September. And more people started looking for work.

The revisions show employers added 146,000 jobs per month from July through September, up from 67,000 in the previous three months.

The 7.8 percent unemployment rate for September matches the rate in January 2009, when Obama took office. In the months after Obama's inauguration, the rate rose sharply and had topped 8 percent for 43 straight months.

The decline in the unemployment rate comes at a critical moment for Obama, who is coming off a weak debate performance this week against GOP challenger Mitt Romney.

The September employment report may be the last that might sway undecided voters. The October jobs report will be released only four days before Election Day.

"An overall better-than-expected jobs report, consistent with most recent data that suggest the economy is gaining some momentum," said Sal Guatieri, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, in a note to clients. "The sizeable drop in the unemployment rate could lift the president's re-election chances following a post-debate dip."

After the jobs report was released, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 65 points in the first half hour of trading. Broader stock indexes also rose.

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note climbed to 1.73 percent from 1.68 percent just before the report. That suggested that investors were more willing to take on risk and shift money from bonds into stocks.

The job market has been improving, sluggishly but steadily. Jobs have been added for 24 straight months. There are now 325,000 more than when Obama took office.

The number of employed Americans comes from a government survey of 60,000 households that determines the unemployment rate. The government asks a series of questions, by phone or in person. For example:

Do you own a business? Did you work for pay? If not, did you provide unpaid work for a family business or farm? (Those who did are considered employed.)

Afterward, the survey participants are asked whether they had a job and, if so, whether it was full or part time. The government's definition of unemployed is someone who's out of work and has actively looked for a job in the past four weeks.

The government also does a second survey of roughly 140,000 businesses to determine the number of jobs businesses created or lost.

The September job gains were led by the health care industry, which added 44,000 jobs — the most since February. Transportation and warehousing also showed large gains.

The revisions also showed that federal, state and local governments added 63,000 jobs in July and August, compared with earlier estimates that showed losses.

Still, many of the jobs the economy added last month were part time. The number of people with part-time jobs who wanted full-time work rose 7.5 percent to 8.6 million, the most since February 2009.

But overall, Friday's report dispelled some fears about the job market.

The "U.S. could be growing jobs at a marginally faster pace than feared mid-summer," Guy LeBas, a strategist at Janney Capital Markets, wrote in a research note. "Even with the issues in Europe and slowing production in China, U.S. economic activity does not look to be bearing the brunt of global downside, at least not anymore."


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8 thoughts on “US Jobless Rate Falls to 7.8 Pct., 44-Month Low

  1. amberprelate on said:

    Jeg er en af ​​de mennesker, der har mistet deres job i fortiden, og jeg er meget skuffet på det tidspunkt. Men jeg holder udkig efter et job et findes i en i helse online, og det er et meget godt stykke arbejde. Jeg er nu en sælger og sælger chia frø online.

  2. FTSMITH on said:

    Mighty funny thing unemployment wasn’t a factor, in the 2004 Presidental election. WHY? Because the ‘fear and scare tactics’ created during the Bush/Cheney, therefore distracting the people who lost their jobs.

  3. loycetate on said:

    I just hope enough of America can see through the smoke and mirrors, as one of the millions of unemployed and high educated gaining employment is a relative status. I believe there is a “job” for everyone but not necessarily the right job paying the rate of knowledge the employer is gaining. I cringe when I hear the term “hire” for small business repeated in the debate by Romney where are small businesses going to get the funds to hire anybody, tax breaks alone don’t do it. A company has to be making profits to be able to hire people and most small businesses need capital like my company. Well if your company is not making money you don’t qualify for any government money so you don’t really end up helping those most in need but feeding those few. Where is the Bill Clinton money that never made it the economic zones that qualified during his administration. The money is recycle among the same vendors. Obama had 4 years of just cleaning up Bush’s bs that it will take the next 4 year to initiate his plan. He is more than deserving I don’t care what the unemployment rate is. People see through the smoke and mirrors and don’t get hung up on that figure cause it is all relative. Vote OBAMA 2012 YES WE CAN!

  4. EbonyRose2 on said:

    Also, most people do not take into consideration the fact that the President has been able to grow the economy WITHOUT being able to implement his REAL economic plan because of the rabid, racist opposition of the Republicans to every agenda plan he has tried to put forth! But in spite of them, there is STILL job and economic growth!! The President’s plans ARE already working!! Let’s give him a favorable Congress so he can do even more!! Vote Democrat!!

  5. YadaYada on said:

    Oh I see, then that must mean Romneys real plan (not caring about 47% of the country and attacking our children) is to really make this country like Iraq. Thats what I want.

  6. gwanedm on said:

    Of course Obama’s plans need time to work because his true plan is to make Americans subservient to the Federal Government! Its going to require changing the constitution! the last thing to go will be the right to bear arms then we really will be like the Soviet Union

  7. YadaYada on said:

    I disagree, the country is slowly getting back on its feet, Obama dose diserve a chance to complete what he`s started. His plans need time to work, how long do you think Mitts plan to get rid of Big Bird and Planned parenthood would take to jump start the country

  8. cindycruz on said:

    When you look behind the real numbers and not the smoke, mirrors and lies of the government …. The true unemployemnet is over 15% … Not fooled.
    We are already back in a recession and there has never been a recovery.

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