The U.S. economy added an estimated 171,000 jobs in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly employment report released Friday -- exceeding analysts expectations, and sparing President Obama from lackluster economic news days before the election
The figures suggest a strengthening labor market, and include significant upward revisions to previous months' employment estimates. BLS now estimates that the economy added an impressive 192,000 jobs in August, up 50,000 from a primary September revision and up even more from the initial, weak August estimate of 96,000. Likewise, BLS estimates that the economy added 148,000 jobs in September, up 34,000 from its initial estimate of 114,000.
Those revisions reflect an accelerating recovery, but also illustrate the report's significant uncertainty. That uncertainty hasn't stopped members of both parties from spinning the initial figures for partisan advantage. The report comes just four days before polls open Tuesday, lending additional salience to the unemployment rate, which ticked upward from 7.8 to 7.9. for the promising reason that over 578,000 people entered the work force.
Growth was strongest in professional services, health care, and retail trade, which added 51,000, 31,000, and 36,000 jobs respectively.
However, private sector gains were offset slightly by 13,000 government job losses, split nearly evenly between postal service and state government retrenchment.
The report is consistent with other improving economic indicators, showing growing consumer confidence, increased manufacturing, and a strengthening housing market. It's also a capstone on top of a stack of good headlines for Obama, whose handling of Hurricane Sandy earned praise from New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie, and who on Thursday earned the endorsement of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.