The latest report from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics was released on Friday, showing 171,000 jobs were created in October—a far better figure than some economists were expecting.
The U.S. unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent in September because of the increased size of the country's workforce. The overall number of unemployed people (12.3 million) was essentially unchanged in October, the bureau said. Nearly all of the new jobs came from the private sector.
The report also revised job creation figures for August and September, with 192,000 jobs created in August (up from the 142,000 initially reported) and 148,000 in September (up from 114,000).
Hurricane Sandy had "no [discernible] effect" on the employment and unemployment data for October, the report said.
The closely watched report comes less than a week before the U.S. presidential election, with the economy being the pivotal issue in the race.
It would seem to be good news for President Barack Obama, whose campaign has touted a steady recovery. The economy has added jobs for 25 consecutive months—an average of 173,000 per month since July—and the unemployment rate has fallen below 8 percent during his administration.
"While more work remains to be done, today's employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression," White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Krueger said in statement. "It is critical that we continue the policies that are building an economy that works for the middle class as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007."
But GOP challenger Mitt Romney quickly fired off a statement claiming the recovery under Obama has been too slow:
Today's increase in the unemployment rate is a sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill. The jobless rate is higher than it was when President Obama took office, and there are still 23 million Americans struggling for work. On Tuesday, America will make a choice between stagnation and prosperity. For four years, President Obama's policies have crushed America's middle class. For four years, President Obama has told us that things are getting better and that we're making progress. For too many American families, those words ring hollow. We can do better. We can have real economic growth, create millions of good-paying jobs, and give middle-class families the security and opportunity they deserve. When I'm president, I'm going to make real changes that lead to a real recovery, so that the next four years are better than the last.
"This jobs report is good, but it won't change the race," Ezra Klein wrote on Twitter. "Which is as it should be."
Investors seemed to welcome the report, with the Dow Jones industrial average jumping more than 50 points after the opening bell.