Romney Ups the Ante on Desired Unemployment Rate, Suggests Rates Seen Rarely in U.S. History

May 4, 2012 1:55pm

O’HARA, Pa. – Mitt Romney raised his expectations for the unemployment numbers today, suggesting that “anything over 4 percent is not cause of celebration.”

“Just this morning there was some news that came across the wire that said that the unemployment rate has dropped to 8.1 percent,” said Romney during a campaign event in a Pittsburgh suburb. “And normally that would be cause for celebration. But in fact anything over 8 percent, anything near 8 percent, anything over 4 percent is not cause for celebration.”

However, the unemployment rate hasn’t been that low — 4 percent —  in more than a decade. In December 2000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate was 3.9 percent, but in the 12 years since has been higher.

Today’s jobs report indicated that the unemployment rate had dropped slightly from 8.2 percent in March to 8.1 percent in April, a number Romney said during an interview on Fox & Friends was “terrible” and “disappointing.”

During that same interview, Romney suggested that instead of seeing just 115,000 new jobs created last month, as the report showed, Americans should be “seeing numbers in the 500,000 jobs created per month.”

But at this campaign event, Romney omitted the 500,000 number from his remarks, saying only that the number of jobs created was “well beneath what it was expected to be.”

“It should have been in the hundreds of thousands, but it wasn’t,” said Romney.

A spokesman for the Romney campaign did not immediately respond to clarify whether Romney was still referring to that 500,000 number when he said “hundreds of thousands.”

A closer look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that the economy has only added more than 500,000 jobs a handful of times in history, the most recent occasion being in May 2010, when 516,000 jobs were added under the Obama administration.

Interestingly, Vice President Joe Biden admitted that same year that he would get “in trouble” back at the White House for making aggressive job predictions, but went ahead and did so anyway during a fundraiser in Pittsburgh in August 2010.

“Some time in the next couple of months we’re going to be creating between 250,000 jobs a month and 500,000 jobs a month,” Biden said at the time.

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