Washington - The US unemployment rate rose to 7.9% in October from 7.8% the prior month, the government said on Friday in a highly anticipated report ahead of the November 6 election.
Though the jobless rate ticked up a notch, the economy added 171 000 jobs in October, well above expectations.
The Labour Department said the unemployment rate was "essentially unchanged" at 7.9%, and noted job growth in professional and business services, health care and the retail sector.
The number of unemployed people - 12.3 million - was slightly higher, following a dip in September.
Most analysts had forecast the rise in the unemployment rate, but the job growth far outpaced the 125 000 estimate.
The better-than-expected jobs report serves as the final snapshot on the economy as President Barack Obama battles for re-election next Tuesday in a neck-and-neck race against Republican challenger Mitt Romney.