The United States added 161,000 jobs in October, pushing unemployment below 5 percent. This was the final major report on the American economy before Tuesday’s presidential election.
The US unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent in October, Labor Department figures reported on Friday, as 161,000 jobs were added in the month before Tuesday's presidential election.
The professional and business sectors, a category that produces mostly higher-paying jobs in engineering and accounting, led the way with 43,000 new jobs in October and 542,000 over the calendar year. Healthcare firms came second with 39,100 added jobs in October.
Average hourly pay rose by 10 cents per hour to a mean of $25.92 (23.32 euros) per hour. That is 2.8 percent higher than one year ago and the strongest 12-month rise in seven years in the world's largest economy. Consumer prices rose 1.5 percent for the previous 12 months to September, implying that wage boosts were outstripping inflation, at least overall.
The Federal Reserve called the job gains "solid," despite the unemployment rate changing very little since August 2015, when overall unemployment stood at 5.1 percent.
Effect on the election
Republican nominee Donald Trump has portrayed the American economy being in a sharp decline and called the Labor Department report released Friday "disastrous," saying United States President Barack Obama presided over a workforce decline. Trump's National Policy Director Stephen Miller said "nearly half a million people left the workforce last month, a painful and massive decline."
Trump's complaints center around those people of working age in the US not currently looking for work - who are no included in the unemployment figures. These include students, stay-at-home parents, retirees and others. The labor force participation rate, the proportion of people either working or seeking work, dropped slightly to 62.8 percent.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton did not immediately respond to the job report. The White House, however, hailed "the longest streak of total job growth on record," before adding that much work still needed to be done.
Both Clinton and Trump are set to campaign in battleground states Ohio and New Hampshire Friday, where unemployment is below the national average.
kbd/msh (AFP, AP, dpa)