Romney, Obama Take Different Spins On Jobs Report

Both candidates seized on Friday's jobs report to make the case for why they should be elected next Tuesday. Employers added a better than expected 171,000 jobs in October. But the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent as more Americans entered the labor force to look for work.

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There was no way the presidential candidates could ignore the final jobs report before the election. And today, it offered fodder each of them. Hiring in October was up. It exceeded expectations and the Labor Department revised payroll numbers higher for previous months. But the unemployment rate moved up to 7.9 percent, as more people came off the sidelines to look for work.

NPR's Yuki Noguchi tells us more about the numbers and the political spin.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: More robust hiring brought the number of net new jobs up 171,000 last month. The Labor Department also said August and September hiring were better than previously reported. Maury Harris is chief U.S. economist for UBS.

MAURY HARRIS: I think these job numbers are for real because they can be corroborated by other information that we're seeing on the economy.

NOGUCHI: There are signs that consumer confidence in housing are picking up, suggesting people are both more optimistic about their chances of finding work and readier to spend money.

HARRIS: I think what we're seeing is sustainable and the growth importantly relates to recovery in the housing sector. And what also, I think, has been very pivotal is the banking system expanding and easing lending standards.

NOGUCHI: This news was welcomed by the Obama campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Four more years, four more years, four more years.

NOGUCHI: Speaking at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in the swing state of Ohio, the president told the supportive crowd this is a sign of an accelerating recovery.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This morning, we learned that companies hired more workers in October than at any time in the last eight months.

NOGUCHI: Mr. Obama also pledged to fight on until everyone who wants a job gets one.

OBAMA: After four years as president, you know me. You may not agree with every decision I've made. You may be frustrated sometimes at the pace of change, but you know what I believe. You know where I stand. You know I tell the truth. You know that I fight for you and your families every single day as hard as I know how. You know that.

NOGUCHI: If the president's speech was interrupted with cheers of four more years, Mitt Romney was greeted by supporters in West Allis, Wisconsin chanting four more days.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Four more days, four more days, four more days.

MITT ROMNEY: We've almost forgotten what a real recovery looks like, what Americans can achieve when we limit government instead of limiting the dreams of our fellow Americans, that's what a real recovery looks like.

NOGUCHI: Mr. Romney pointed to the plodding pace of job growth over the last few years and the fact that more than 12 million people remain unemployed.

ROMNEY: Now, how is it that he's fallen so short of what he's promised? In part, it's because he'd never led before. He'd never worked across the aisle before. He never truly understood how jobs are created in the economy.

NOGUCHI: He promised to usher in a new era of pro-business policies that he says will bring what he calls real change. Come Tuesday, voters will select one of these men for the big job and that person will face the big task of getting the rest of unemployed America back to work.

Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington.

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