The nation's unemployment rate dropped to the lowest it has been since early in 2009 in September, providing a potential upbeat talking point for President Barack Obama in the days left before the presidential election.
The Labor Department reported Friday that the unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in September, a decline of 0.3 percentage point and the lowest since January 2009. It was the first time the jobless rate has fallen below 8 percent in almost four years.
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 came back into the labor force to resume the hunt for work. The economy created 114,000 jobs, about as expected.
"Whatever the reason, the president can now say 'I've brought unemployment below 8 percent," said CNBC anchor Brian Sullivan, as the Morning Joe panel tried to analyze the importance of the news.
Bloomberg's Joshua Green points out that aside from the September numbers, the July and August numbers were revised upward. The government said the economy generated 86,000 more jobs in July and August than first estimated.
"The fact that the revisions are upward... that's the trend you're looking for," said Green. "All in all, it's probably good news, but perhaps not enough to overshadow his belly flop in the debate the other night."
For NBC's Chuck Todd, this information might not change voters' minds. "This number has a bigger impact on the tone of the media coverage for a day or two. [According to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll], people have a partisan way of viewing where the economy is. If you're with the president, you already believe that things are looking up and the country is headed in the right direction. If you are with Romney, you think the country is going in the wrong direction. Independents, according to the poll, have tilted to thinking that the economy is getting better."
UPDATE 10:08 a.m. ET: In a statement Friday, Romney said the numbers weren’t good enough.
“This is not what a real recovery looks like,” Romney wrote. “We created fewer jobs in September than in August, and fewer jobs in August than in July, and we’ve lost over 600,000 manufacturing jobs since President Obama took office.”