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Obama, Romney point to job figures for validation

The final US job figures before the presidential election have been released. Both presidential candidates jumped on the new numbers as validation for their campaigns.

Labor Department statistics released on Friday show that more people are looking for jobs in the United States - resulting in a slight increase in unemployment - and that 171,000 people were added to company payrolls in October.

The unemployment rate climbed 0.1 percent to reach 7.9 percent. Only workers who are actively looking for work are counted in the unemployment figures, and with more people looking for work last month, the number went up accordingly.

Figures indicating the number of new jobs in August and September were also revised upward in the Labor Department's report.

Both sides point to numbers

President Barack Obama said the new data showed "real progress" on getting the US economy back on track.

"Companies hired more workers in October than at any time in the last eight months," Obama said at a campaign rally in Ohio, which is seen as potentially the deciding state in Tuesday's election.

Obama's Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, said that the numbers represented an economy at a "virtual standstill."

"For four years, President Obama's policies have crushed America's middle class," said Romney in a statement. "When I'm president, I'm going to make real changes that lead to a real recovery, so that the next four years are better than the last."

Romney also campaigned in Ohio on Friday.

Tuesday's election is seen to be a neck and neck race, with neither candidate enjoying a comfortable margin in pre-election polls.

mz/dr (Reuters, dpa)