Friday, November 02 12:53:30
U.S. employers stepped up hiring in October and the jobless rate ticked higher as more workers restarted job hunts, a hopeful sign for a lacklustre economy that has dragged on President Barack Obama's reelection chances.
Employers added 171,000 people to their payrolls last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. The government also said 84,000 more jobs were created in August and September than initially estimated.
The jobless rate edged a tenth of a point higher to 7.9 percent, but that was due to a surge of workers back into the workforce. Only people who have recently looked for a job can count as unemployed.
The employment data was the last major report card on the economy before Tuesday's presidential election, which pits Obama against Republican Mitt Romney.
While the rise in the jobless rate was expected, the increase in payrolls beat even the most optimistic forecast in a Reuters poll.
The report provides fodder for both candidates.
Even sustained monthly gains of 171,000 would likely bring down the jobless rate only slowly. Even with the relative strength seen in the report, a full recovery from the 2007-09 recession remains distant. The jobless rate, which peaked during the recession at 10 percent, remains about 3 percentage points above its pre-recession level. (C ) Reuters