The final bit of pre-election economic news came out today and it bore a mixed message.
The unemployment rate rose to 7.9% in October from 7.8% in September.
However, U.S. employers added 171,000 jobs in October, and hiring was stronger in August and September than first thought. The solid job growth showed that the economy is strengthening slowly but consistently, Associated Press reported.
The government uses a separate survey to calculate the unemployment rate, and it counts people without jobs as unemployed only if they’re looking for one.
Today’s report was the last major snapshot of the economy before Tuesday’s elections. It’s unclear what political effect the report might have. By now, all but a few voters have made up their minds, particularly about the economy, analysts say.
Since July, the economy has created an average of 173,000 jobs a month. That’s 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 work force — the number of people either working or looking for work — rose by 578,000 in October. And 410,000 more people said they were employed.
The influx of people seeking jobs “could be a sign that people are starting to see better job prospects and so should be read as another positive aspect to the report,” said Julia Coronado, an economist at BNP Paribas.
Still, investors were pleased by the news. The Dow Jones industrial average futures were flat before it came out at 8:30 a.m. EDT. When stock trading began an hour later, the Dow was up about 50 points.