Jobs figures offer boost to Obama
Hiring in the US increased more than forecast in October as employers looked past slowing global growth and political gridlock.
In the last jobs report before next week's election, a net 171,000 workers were added to payrolls after a 148,000 gain in September that was more than first estimated, Labour Department figures showed today in Washington. Analysts had expected an increase in the region of 125,000.
The jobless rate rose to 7.9 per cent from 7.8 per cent as more people entered the labour force. Faster job growth may help explain recent gains in consumer sentiment, laying the groundwork for a pickup in purchases that's helping sustain the expansion in wake of a weakening global economy.
Americans go to the polls on Tuesday to decide whether to give president Barack Obama another four years or change course with Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
The report showed retailers added the most workers to payrolls since April 2011. A strengthening in the housing market helped drive a gain in construction employment, while payrolls increases were also noted in business services, manufacturing and leisure and hospitality.
At the same time, average hourly earnings climbed 1.6 per cent in October from a year earlier, the smallest gain since comparable records back to at least 2007, today's report showed.
The jobless rate when Mr Obama took office in January 2009 was 7.8 per cent. It exceeded 8 per cent for 43 months prior to September, the longest such stretch since monthly records began in 1948.
The most recent polls suggest the race for the presidency is in a dead heat.
Ronald Reagan is the only president to have been re-elected since World War II with a jobless rate above 6 per cent. The rate was 7.2 per cent on Election Day 1984, having dropped almost 3 percentage points in the previous 18 months.
Through October this year, the rate has dropped 1.1 points in the same period under Mr Obama.