(NBC) - The unemployment rate fell below eight percent for the first time in nearly four years last month.

The news is good for job seekers, but also for President Obama, who is trying to maintain his lead in the polls.

The number of people without jobs fell to 7.8 percent, marking the first time it's been below eight percent during Mr. Obama's presidency.

"We know that there are still that willingness for all of us to see that more people are put back to work. But in this particular report I'm happy to see that we see a continued growth," Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said after the report was issued.

Employers added 114,000 jobs in September, as well as 86,000 jobs that hadn't been accounted for in July and August.

The numbers shocked analysts, who had predicted the jobless rate would stay around eight percent and possibly grow.

President Obama called the September report proof the economy is improving under his policies.

"We have made too much progress to return to the policies that have led to the crisis in the first place. I can't allow that to happen," he said.

Mitt Romney, campaigning in Virginia, countered that the unemployment rate fell because people gave up on finding a job.

"If the same share of people were participating in the work force today as on the day president got elected our unemployment rate would about 11 percent," Romney argued.

One downside to this report: Many of the jobs created have been part time, not full time.

Read or Share this story: