The U.S. Labor Department reported Friday the economy added 114,000 jobs last month and said it had revised upward the estimate of jobs added in July and August, bringing the unemployment rate for September to 7.8 percent -- down from 8.1 percent in August.
Romney told a campaign rally in Abingdon, Va., there were "fewer new jobs created this month than last month," and said the jobless rate had come down mostly because "more and more people have just stopped looking for work."
"The truth is ... if the same share of people were participating in the workforce today as on the day the president got elected, our unemployment rate would be around 11 percent," he said.
"We don't have to stay on the path we've been on," Romney said. "We can do better."
The Bureau of Labor Statistics report deprives the Romney campaign of what has been a routine part of his stump speech -- that there have been "43 straight months with unemployment above 8 percent" -- Politico reported. He didn't use the reference in Friday's speech in Virginia.
Nevertheless, he told supporters hiring would improve substantially if he is elected.
"I'll tell you this, when I'm president of the United States -- when I'm president of the United States -- that unemployment rate is going to come down not because people are giving up and dropping out of the workforce, but because we're creating more jobs. I will create jobs and get America working again."
Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, released a statement Friday pointing out that "two-thirds of those who found work [last month] took part-time jobs when they are actually seeking full-time ones."
"We should not have to settle for this new normal," the statement said.
Obama, speaking at a campaign rally in Fairfax, Va., said the jobless report shows his policies are working and he needs a second term to finish the job.
"This morning, we found out that the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since I took office. More Americans entered the workforce. More people are getting jobs," Obama said.
"Now, every month reminds us that we've still got too many of our friends and neighbors who are looking for work. And there are too many middle-class families that are still struggling to pay the bills -- they were struggling long before the crisis hit.
"But today's news certainly is not an excuse to try to talk down the economy to score a few political points. It's a reminder that this country has come too far to turn back now."