7.9% Unemployment: Election Day

Photograph by Eddie Seal/Bloomberg

Job seekers fill out applications at the Rigzone Oil & Gas Career Fair in San Antonio, Texas.

After millions of Americans already have voted early in the presidential election of 2012, the final government snapshot of the labor market in the U.S. before Election Day shows that unemployment stood at 7.9 percent in October.

The addition of 171,000 jobs is a  significant gain, in comparison with recent months, yet the jobless rate inched up a notch.

The jobless rate is is  up one-tenth of a percentage point  from the 7.8 percent unemployment rate reported for September, the lowest rate since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009 and the first dip below 8 percent joblessness in 44 months.

Symbolically, it remains just below 8 percent heading into the Nov. 6 election.

On the campaign trail, Republican Mitt Romney has portrayed the persisting high rate of unemployment as a measure of Obama’s economic failures. The president, in turn, has maintained that much more work remains to be done, yet much progress has been made.

It’s likely too late in the election campaign for any new number to have a meaningful impact on Tuesday’s vote, with Obama and Romney making their closing arguments in the campaign. Obama will make three appearances today in Ohio, a state with a significantly improving economy.  Romney will campaign there as well as in Wisconsin today.

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