There has been some potentially good news for Barack Obama’s re-election bid. The US jobless rate has fallen surprisingly to a near four-year low of 7.8 per cent.
It dropped by 0.3 per cent as 114,000 more people got taken on by employers in September. One index of job gains registered its best figures since 1983.
Significantly, the fall also came after Americans returned to the labour market after the summer lull.
The president’s Republican rival Mitt Romney responded by saying an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent was not what a real recovery looked like.
This was the second last employment report before the November 6th election, and comes as one opinion poll suggested Romney had gained ground on Obama after this week’s televised debate.
Economists have interpreted the news in different ways. One said it showed a real improvement in the labour market. Another said it showed the US economy remained subdued.
The biggest gain was in healthcare, where more than 40,000 jobs were created. There was also a rise in the construction industry.
The news is bound to become used in the election campaign. Already there have been claims that the figures have been massaged – a suggestion flatly rejected by the US Labor Department.