The U.S. economy gained more than 171,000 jobs in October according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, due to increased workforce participation the unemployment rate rose from 7.8% to 7.9%. Despite the rise in the unemployment figure, the numbers from the BLS are good for Obama going into Tuesday's election. The numbers reflect an increase in consumer confidence in the economy which could influence them more than a flash in the pan unemployment number.
The unemployment rate went up from 7.8% to 7.9% despite an addition of jobs because more Americans entered the labor force. While Romney gains a talking point that 7.9% is higher than the 7.8% unemployment rate when Obama took office in January 2009, the report reflects a few overall trends that reflect well on the incumbent.
This marks 32 straight months of private sector job growth, something Obama supporters are keen to flout. The percentage of voluntarily unemployed (those that purposefully left their job to seek a better one) out of the total number of unemployed rose from 7.9% to 8.3% reflecting stronger confidence in the job market. The actual consumer confidence index rose to 72.2% the highest since 2008. While Romney will try to hark on a 0.1% increase in unemployment the president will be able to people's overall all feelings on the trends of the recovery.
Of course in swing states like Ohio, Florida, and Virginia, hold a disproportionate sway on the election. Bearing that in mind it is worthwhile to look at their own unemployment numbers, Ohio is below the national average with 7.0%, Florida is higher than the national average with 8.7%, and Virginia is significantly below the national average with 5.9% (All three states have had their unemployment numbers significantly decrease since recession highs and are certainly trending, however slowly, lower though it will take a lot of time to get to per-recession numbers at this rate.)
So Obama gets to go into the elections final days being able to say that things have gotten better and a significant amount of people may agree with him. Romney is going to go in making the case things aren't getting better fast enough. The latest data and consumers sentiment show that people are starting to agree with Obama that things have gotten better. It remains to be seen if they agree with Romney on whether things would get better faster with a President Romney.
Latest presidential polls: CNN National Poll: Obama and Romney tied at 49. Washington Post/ABC national tracking poll: Obama up 1 (49-48). Pew National Poll: Obama up 3 (48-45). Gallup: 58 percent satisfied with the conduct of Obama's campaign, 54% satisfied with the conduct of Romney's.