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November 2, 2012

US economy adds 171K jobs; rate rises to 7.9 pct.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added 171,000 jobs in October, and hiring was stronger in August and September 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's gradually gaining momentum after nearly stalling in the spring.

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 rate rose in October because more people began seeking work and were counted as unemployed. The government counts people without jobs as unemployed only if they're looking for one.

The work force — the number of people either working or looking for work — rose by 578,000. And 410,000 more people said they were employed.

Investors were pleased by the news. The Dow Jones industrial average futures were flat before it came out at 8:30 a.m. EDT, and within 30 minutes they were up 54 points.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note climbed to 1.77 percent from 1.72 percent, a sign that investors were moving money out of bonds and into stocks.

Today's report included a range of encouraging details.

The government revised its data to show that 84,000 more jobs were added in August and September than previously estimated. The jobs gains in October were widespread across 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 than when Obama took office.

But there were also signs of the economy's persistent weakness. Average hourly pay dipped a penny to $23.58. And the number of unemployed increased 170,000 to 12.3 million.

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