News & Politics

171,000 Jobs Added in October -- Final Bit of Good News for Obama

The October jobs report has beat expectations.

US President Barack Obama waves at supporters during a campaign rally in Boulder, Colorado, on November 1. Obama and Republican foe Mitt Romney on Friday awaited the last monthly jobs data before their tied-up election, ahead of a frenzied rush through mu


So the October Jobs Report from BLS beat expectations quite a bit, with 171,000 net new jobs (consensus expectation had been 121k), and revisions to the last two monthly reports adding another 84,000 jobs. This year’s average monthly gain up until now has been 146,000; this report lifts it to 154,000. Some may recall that Nate Silver called 150,000 new jobs a month Obama’s “magic number” for putting himself in a good situation for re-election.

The unemployment rate ticked up slightly from 7.8% to 7.9% because more people were entering or re-entering the work force. Republicans will leap on this change, of course, which also means Obama will face re-election with the highest unemployment rate of any incumbent president since FDR (it was 7.8% in 1976 when Gerald Ford narrowly lost to Jimmy Carter). But GOPers are probably cursing their luck that the rate did not go back up to 8%, which would have been easy to scream about despite the quite positive nature of this report.

All in all, Obama seems to be getting the late breaks in this campaign.

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Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, and a Special Correspondent for The New Republic.