Will the October Jobs Report Help President Obama?

The United States added 171,000 jobs in October, but the unemployment rate ticked up .1 percentage points.

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The United States economy added 171,000 jobs in October, pushing the unemployment rate up slightly to 7.9 percent. Although the number of those out of work went up by .1 percent, the final release of jobs numbers before the November 6 presidential election was better than analysts were expecting. Numbers from August and September were also revised to reflect more growth than initially reported in those months.

President Barack Obama was back on the campaign trail Friday, after canceling events earlier in the week to deal with disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy. But he only briefly mentioned the jobs report at a stop in Ohio. He said that although "we have made real progress," the economy is far from being satisfactory:

We've got more work to do … As long as there's a single American who wants a job and can't find one, as long as there are families working harder but falling behind, as long as there's a child anywhere in this country who's languishing in poverty and barred from opportunity, our fight goes on.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

Also back on the campaign trail after Hurricane Sandy, Mitt Romney took the numbers as a final opportunity to criticize Obama's handling of the economy. Romney said the president has been unable to fulfill his campaign promises, and the fact the unemployment rate has again risen proves Obama does not have what it takes to turn around the economy: 

He said he was going to lower the unemployment rate down to 5.2 percent right now. Today we learned that's it actually 7.9 percent, and that's 9 million jobs short of what he promised … Unemployment is higher today than when Barack Obama took office. Think of that—unemployment today is higher than on the day Barack Obama took office.

Romney has also continually said that the real unemployment rate is even higher than that reported by the Labor Department, due to the large portion of people who have been out of work for so long that they have simply stopped looking. These people are not included in the numbers because the report only measures those who are actively looking for—but unable—to find a job.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

The presidential race remains tight across the country, with the candidates polling within only a few percentage points of one another in key battleground states. The final week of the campaign was disrupted by Hurricane Sandy's battering of the East Coast, creating an unexpected distraction amidst what has been a particularly nasty race for the presidency. While the uptick in unemployment doesn't support the president's rhetoric that the economy is slowing improving, it may come too close to election day to have any effect on voters who are weary from the campaign and have already made up their minds.

What do you think? Will the October jobs report help President Obama? Take the poll and comment below.

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