How does Bureau of Labor & Statistics determine the unemployment rate?

POSTED: Monday, October 8, 2012 - 8:00am

UPDATED: Monday, October 8, 2012 - 8:04am

The unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent last month, the lowest level since the day President Obama took office.

While the economy added a lackluster 114,000 jobs last month, the July and August numbers were revised upward sharply by a combined total of more than 80,000 jobs.

"Cutting through the data, we're at at least 150,000 per month which is not too bad," says Moody Analytics economist Mark Zandi.

Still, the numbers leave room for Mitt Romney to argue that the economy is stuck in low gear.

"We're about treading water. The labor market hasn't really picked up," says former Bush economic adviser Ed Lazear.

Building on the momentum of Wednesday night's debate, Romney's trying to reverse his fortunes in battlegrounds like Ohio, where he's fallen behind.

The president, meanwhile, argues Republicans are offering nothing new.

"It's not a plan for our economy, it's not a plan to strengthen the middle class. It is not change, it is a relapse. And we're not going to do it," he told supporters Thursday.

The next jobs report comes out four days before the election.

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