In the hotly anticipated last jobs report before the presidential election, the Labor Department says employers added 171,000 new jobs in October. The gain was more than economists surveyed by CNNMoney expected. The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9%, in line with economists' expectations.
Private employers added 184,000 jobs and government shed 13,000 jobs, the report said. Thursday, payroll processor ADP reported private employers added 158,000 jobs in October.
There are still 12.3 million people looking for work. And the number of long-term unemployed -- those out of work for six months or more -- is up slightly, accounting for 41% of the unemployed. On average, they've been out of work for around nine months.
In addition, 2.4 million people are considered "marginally attached" to the labor force. They want to work and have looked for a job sometime in the past year. But, because they haven't looked for work in the past month, they're not considered unemployed.
With just four days to go before the election, both sides put their spin on the report.
Speaking for the Obama administration, chief economic adviser Alan B. Krueger said "more work needs to be done," but called the report "further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal."
Republican challenger Mitt Romney said the report is "a sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill" and called Tuesday's vote "a choice between stagnation and prosperity."
Among new jobs added, the biggest gains were in professional and business services, health care, and retail trade. Construction jobs were up slightly, but manufacturing was flat, and is essentially unchanged since April.
Level of education among the workforce provided a mixed picture. The jobless rate rose nearly a full point, to 12.2%, for those who didn't finish high school, and dropped slightly for those with a diploma. But more people with at least some college education were out of work last month. College graduates fared better, with the jobless rate dropping below 4 percent.
Job numbers for the previous two months were revised upward. The Labor Department now says 148,000 new jobs were created in September, up from 114,000. August's revised number is 192,000, up from 142,000.