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Oct. Hirings Improve, Unemployment Edges Up

The U.S. created a better-than-expected 171,000 jobs in October and hiring rose faster in the prior two months than previously believed, but the politically sensitive unemployment rate edged up slightly to 7.9%, the government said Friday.

CBS MarketWatch reported that the October employment report, which came out just four days before the presidential election, is unlikely to change the trajectory of the race. Republicans will point to the rise in unemployment while Democrats can cite stronger job gains in the past four months.

Yet the improvement in hiring is a welcome sign to Wall Street that the U.S. economy is still continuing to expand at a moderate pace of around 2% or so.

The increase in net hiring last month exceeded market expectations. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast a net increase of 120,000 jobs in October, based on the Labor Department’s survey of roughly 440,000 business establishments. The survey was conducted before Sandy and the storm did not affect the numbers.

The unemployment rate, drawn from a separate survey of about 60,000 households, was expected to edge up to 7.9% from 7.8%. The household survey is viewed as a less reliable indicator of near-term hiring trends than the so-called establishment report, however.

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