President Barack Obama says today's encouraging jobs report shows that the country has made too much progress to turn back to the policies that he says led the nation into an economic crisis.

Obama got much-needed good news Friday following his disappointing debate performance earlier in the week, as the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 per cent — the lowest it has been since he took office in 2009.

Cheers erupted from the crowd at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., when Obama noted that the jobless rate is now at its lowest level since he became president.

However, Republican rival Mitt Romney retorted the president still hasn't done enough to help millions of people who are out of work.

The Labour Department says there were 114,000 new jobs last month, but Romney countered that the country can't afford four more years of the president's leadership and argued that the unemployment rate is low in part because some people have quit looking for work.

"This is not what a real recovery looks like," the former Massachusetts governor said in a statement shortly after the jobless figures were released.

He pointed to millions of people still struggling to find work, living in poverty and using food stamps to feed their families. He also said he would lead a recovery with pro-growth policies for job creation and rising income.

Candidates campaign in early-voting state

Obama responded that Romney wants to roll back policies that are repairing the economic damage.

"Today's news certainly is not an excuse to try to talk down the economy to score a few political points," Obama said. "It is a reminder that the country has come too far to turn back now."


Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, responding to the U.S. jobs report Friday during a campaign stop in Abingdon, Va., said millions of people are still struggling to find work, living in poverty and using food stamps. (Steve Helber/Associated Press)

The unemployment rate fell from 8.1 per cent in August, matching its level in January 2009 when Obama became president.

There is one more monthly unemployment report before election day, so Friday's numbers could leave a lasting impact on Americans who are already casting ballots in states that allow early voting.

The candidates headed Friday to opposite ends of one of those early voting states, Virginia.

Romney was campaigning for support in the state's far western coal country, while Obama focused on recruiting women at an appearance in the Washington suburbs, where he argued that his health-care policy has improved their health-care choices.