WASHINGTON - U.S. employers added 171,000 jobs in October and hiring was stronger over the previous two months than first thought. The unemployment rate inched up to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent in September because the work force grew.
The Labor Department's last look at hiring before Tuesday's election sketched a picture of a job market that is gradually gaining momentum after nearly stalling in the spring.
Since July, the economy has created an average of 173,000 jobs a month, 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 ticked up because more people without jobs started looking for work. The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively searching.
Attempting to capitalize on the numbers, Mitt Romney says the one-tenth-of-a-point increase in the unemployment rate to 7.9 percent is, quote, "a sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill."
The Republican presidential nominee says voters will decide Tuesday between what he calls stagnation and prosperity.
He made the comments in a statement while traveling from Norfolk, Va., to Milwaukee, to continue campaigning in the final days of the White House race.
Romney argues that President Barack Obama's policies have crushed America's middle class, and that the nation can do better. He's also promising to make real changes that will lead to a real recovery.
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