Ahead of Election, U.S. Added 171,000 Jobs in October

Unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9%; Hurricane Sandy 'had no discernible effect' on jobs data

Ahead of the presidential election, party members disagreed over whether the October U.S. jobs report was good or bad. (Photo: AP) Ahead of the presidential election, party members disagreed over whether the October U.S. jobs report was good or bad. (Photo: AP)

Just four days before the presidential election, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issued Friday its October employment report, which showed unemployment notched up to 7.9%, with U.S. employers adding 171,000 jobs.

Employment rose in professional and business services, health care and retail trade.

The report noted that Hurricane Sandy “had no discernible effect” on the employment and unemployment data for October, as the household survey data collection was completed before the storm, and establishment survey data collection rates were within normal ranges nationally and for the affected areas.

Analysts had expected an increase of around 125,000 jobs.

The BLS September employment report showed that unemployment dropped to 7.8%, with employment rising by 114,000, the lowest rate since January 2009. Employment during that month increased in health care, transportation and warehousing but changed little in most other major industries.

Elaine Kamarck, co-chair of the RATE Coalition and former White House adviser to President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, noted in a release that Friday’s jobs numbers “provide more evidence that the country is beginning its recovery.”

But House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., countered that the unemployment report “is a stark reminder that President Obama’s economic policies are failing.” America, he said, needs a new direction. "When President Obama took office, unemployment stood at 7.8%, and today it is 7.9%. Four years, and trillions of dollars later, it is clear that we are on the wrong course.”

American families are suffering, Cantor went on to say. "Parents are taking jobs simply to make ends meet, rather than build a career. Hopeless graduates are entering the workforce with skills that outmatch the jobs available, and paychecks smaller than unemployment checks. Managers can’t hire and businesses can’t grow so long as President Obama insists on taking more of their money.”

Kamarck of the RATE Coalition noted that throughout the campaign and during the presidential debates both President Obama and Governor Romney “called for lowering the corporate tax rate as a way to create more jobs.” Next week, she said, “the campaign will end and one of the candidates will be responsible for growing the economy. The best policy for economic growth will be corporate tax reform.”

James Pinkerton, co-chair of the RATE Coalition and former White House domestic policy adviser to presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, noted in the same release that the October jobs report “is yet another example of America’s tepid economic recovery.”

The United States, he says, “needs dynamic and comprehensive tax reform that lowers the corporate tax rate to an internationally competitive level to catalyze the economy and significantly strengthen job creation. Until policymakers give businesses a system that they can be confident in, relatively weak growth will continue to be the norm.”

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