US Unemployment Rate Falls Below 8 Percent, Lowest In Nearly 4 Years

Coming off a disappointing debate against contender Mitt Romney, many political analysts expected President Obama's bad week to continue with the Friday release of September's unemployment numbers.

But Friday's numbers instead brought unexpected good news for the president: rather than remaining at 8.1 percent as widely predicted, unemployment fell to 7.8 percent, the lowest rate in 44 months.

Following a disappointing job report in August, the Labor Department was full of positive news Friday: the unemployment rate fell because more people were being hired, employers added more jobs in September versus August, and wages rose in September. Job creation numbers for July and August were revised upward: the economy created 86,000 more jobs in those months than previously estimated.

More people also started looking for work in September than in August, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a drop in discouraged workers. This is significant because in previous months, the unemployment rate has been skewed by the number of people quitting the job hunt, and therefore not being counted in the unemployment numbers. This does not appear to be the case for September.

September also marked the 24th straight month of job growth--albeit sluggish growth.

It wasn't all good news from the Labor Department, with many of the jobs added being part-time. But all in all, the job report exceeded expectations and was a marked improvement over the summer's job reports.

Though unlikely to have a significant impact on the election, it could change the political conversation for a day or two, cushioning the blow of Wednesday's widely-panned debate performance.

Both candidates are likely to attempt at spinning the numbers in their favor: the president is expected to tout the first drop below 8 percent in almost four years, while Romney will be quick to remind the electorate that millions of Americans still remain out of work or underemployed.