Unemployment rate rises to 7.9%
The last jobs report before the election contains some good news for the president and some bad news.
While the "official" unemployment rate rose from 7.8% to 7.9%, the economy added a middling 171,000 jobs.
U.S. employers added 171,000 jobs in October and hiring was stronger over the previous two months than first thought. The unemployment rate inched up to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent in September.
The Labor Department's last look at hiring before Tuesday's election sketched a picture of a job market that is gradually gaining momentum after nearly stalling in the spring.
Since July, the economy has created an average of 173,000 jobs a month, up from 67,000 a month from April through June.
Still, President Barack Obama will face voters with the highest unemployment rate of any incumbent since Franklin Roosevelt. The rate ticked up because more people without jobs started looking for work. The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively searching.
Most of the details in the report were positive. The government revised the jobs figures to show that 84,000 more jobs were added than previously estimated.
The gains in October were widespread across most industries. And the percentage of Americans working or looking for work rose for the second straight month.
The economy has added jobs for 25 straight months. There are now 580,000 more jobs than when Obama took office.
But there were also signs of the economy's ongoing weakness. Average hourly pay dipped a penny to $23.58. And the number of unemployed increased 170,000 to 12.3 million.
The department said Hurricane Sandy had no noticeable impact on the report.
It wouldn't have mattered if the rate had come down, just as it doesn't matter that the rate went up. One economic indicator is not going to change anyone's mind at this point. For better or worse, the game has changed from selling to logistics; it's a matter of turnout now and those few who are still undecided are probably so unaware of what's going on anyway that they won't even take note of this report.