U.S. companies beat analysts’ expectations last month, hiring 171,000 workers in October. The Labor Department also revised job numbers higher for August and September adding 84,000 more workers to company payrolls. Even as employers ramped up hiring, however, the nation’s unemployment rate was rising, up one tenth of 1 percent.
The last major economic report before Americans head to the polls shows hiring accelerated in October. That’s welcome news for more than 12 million unemployed Americans, and for a president fighting to keep his job. President Barack Obama told supporters in Ohio that since July the private sector has added more than 170,000 jobs each month.
But the improving outlook is just one aspect of the government report. Despite upward revisions to job numbers in August and September, the nation’s unemployment rate inched higher to 7.9 percent as more people started looking for work.
Since World War II, no U.S. president has ever won re-election with unemployment above 7.4 percent. The White House says the new report, though, is further evidence that the economy is healing from the worst downturn in decades. Still, the latest job numbers are unlikely to sway voters.