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US Economy Adds 171K Jobs; Rate Rises To 7.9 Pct.

It allowed Obama to argue that the economy has added jobs for 25 consecutive months, since September 2010, and that the private sector has added jobs for 32 consecutive months, since February 2010.

Campaigning in Hilliard, Ohio, the president said: "We've made real progress, but we are here today because we know we've got more work to do. Our fight goes on."

The report allowed the Romney campaign, however, to argue that the unemployment rate will be higher on Election Day than it was on Inauguration Day in January 2009, when it was 7.8 percent.

"I won't waste any time complaining about my predecessor," Romney said at a rally in West Allis, Wis. "From Day One, I will go to work to help Americans get back to work."

Obama will face voters with the highest unemployment rate of any incumbent since Franklin Roosevelt. It was 7.8 when Gerald Ford lost to Jimmy Carter in 1976, and 7.2 percent when Ronald Reagan trounced Walter Mondale in 1984.

The story of what happened to the economy during Obama's term is, of course, more complicated.

The month Obama took office, the economy lost 818,000 jobs, the worst figure of the Great Recession. During the next 13 months he was in office, the economy lost 4.3 million jobs.

Jobs reports were mixed, with some gains and some losses, for the next seven months. Since the beginning of October 2010, the economy has added 3.9 million jobs. The total for Obama's time in office is growth of 194,000 jobs.

In addition, the Labor Department said in September that 368,000 jobs were created in the year ending in March but have not been assigned to the month-by-month statistics. Adding those jobs, Obama's total is 562,000.

The economy lost 13,000 jobs during George W. Bush's first term and added 1.1 million jobs during his second term. The economy added 11.5 million jobs during Bill Clinton's first term and 11.2 million during his second.

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