SPARKS - Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan told a crowd of 2,500 supporters Friday that the American economy created only one new job last month for every four people who stopped looking for work, an indication that the country needs a new president and "a real economic recovery."
Standing on a platform at the Peterbilt Trucking Equipment and Supply company, Ryan said the latest federal job report shows 360,000 people stopped looking for jobs in August, while 96,000 people found jobs. The economy needs to create 150,000 jobs a month just to keep pace with population growth, he added.
"This is nowhere close to an economic recovery," Ryan told an all-Republican crowd that applauded him but never broke into loud cheering.
The unemployment statistics come from a federal Labor Department report Friday that also showed unemployment in August dropped to 8.1 percent, down from 8.3 percent in July.
"President (Barack) Obama is not a bad guy," Ryan said. "He's good at giving great speeches. He's just really bad at creating jobs."
Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, said he and presidential candidate Mitt Romney have a plan to fix the economy. Ryan mentioned the development of oil wells, mineral sources and other forms of energy; increasing exports; and changing education so people can retrain to get the skills to find jobs.
But he received the most applause when he attacked Obama on federal spending.
"We have to stop spending money we don't have," said Ryan, making his first appearance in Northern Nevada since he was chosen by Romney as his running mate. "We need to get our budget under control, or we will end up like Europe."
Romney will be in Reno on Tuesday when he speaks to a National Guard convention. Obama is scheduled to be in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
Noting that Nevada is considered a battleground state that either candidate could win, Ryan impressed on audience members - who were phoned by the Republican Party and asked whether they wanted tickets to attend - that they need to show up at the polls and encourage others to vote for Romney for the GOP ticket to pick up the state's six electoral votes.
"A lot of people are depending on you," he said.
Obama won Nevada by 12 percentage points in 2008. But the Democrats' voter edge over Republicans, then 100,000, has been reduced to 56,000. Democrats, however, have gained 30,000 new registered voters since May, compared with 13,000 by Republicans.
A group of protesters gathered outside the private truck sale business where Ryan spoke but were so far away that anything they shouted could not be heard by Ryan.
In a statement Friday, Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., attacked Ryan; Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.; and Romney. She said their plan would "essentially end Medicare by turning it over to private insurance companies." She also said premiums paid by senior citizens would increase by $6,400.
Ryan did not mention Medicare in his 18-minute speech, but he said he wants to end the deficit so children today do not have to pay it off in the future. Berkley is running for Heller's seat in the Senate.
"Seniors and middle-class families in Washoe County and across the state got a firsthand look at the Heller-Ryan-Romney agenda today as vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan visited Sparks to campaign on his plan to dismantle Medicare and turn it over to private insurance companies," Berkley said.
"Seniors have paid for and earned the benefits they receive through Medicare throughout their lives. I will never waver on my commitment to protect and preserve Medicare, and I will never back down in the face of continued threats to the program that hundreds of thousands of seniors across Nevada rely on."
If the Republicans win in November, Ryan said, they are not "going to spend four years blaming other people" for their problems.
"We are going to fix those problems," he vowed. "We are not going to kick the can down the road."
Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3901.