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The economy, which is now suddenly reeling from the devastation brought about by Hurricane Sandy, received a jolt of good news this morning, when the U.S. Labor Department reported that our nation added 171,000 jobs in October, well above the consensus expectation of 120,000 jobs. There was, according to Labor, no discernible impact from the aforementioned Hurricane on this report. Obviously, there will be a big impact by next month.

Moreover, in addition to the good news for October, the government also revised estimates for job growth in August and September. Specifically, the Department reported that August payroll creation was revised from 142,000 to 192,000, while data for September showed that the nation added 148,000 jobs that month; initially, the September payroll gain had been noted at 114,000. The lone disquieting note was provided by a one-tenth of a percentage point pickup in the jobless rate from 7.8% to 7.9%.

Meanwhile, this is the last broad snapshot of the domestic economy before next Tuesday's Presidential Election, and it was, all things considered, a favorable report. However, we also note that these numbers for the past three months, albeit better than in the preceding trio of months, still left job growth well below the 200,000, or more, new jobs needed monthly, we suspect, to decisively bring down the still-lofty unemployment rate. Further, payroll numbers are also likely to sustain a blow over the next few months from the aforementioned Hurricane. Many have lost jobs and others will be adversely affected in this regard in the coming months.

As to the private sector, 184,000 payrolls were added last month, as the government reduced employment by 13,000 positions. As to the private sector, 13,000 jobs were added in manufacturing last month, while increases were seen in professional and business services, healthcare, and retail. The average number of hours worked, meantime, held steady at 34.4, while average earnings slipped a penny an hour to $23.58.

Taken as a whole, the report was a good one, and materially better, including the revisions, than had been forecast.  

At the time of this article's writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned