171,000 new jobs provides mild boost to Obama

Unemployment rate up 0.1%

The final US employment report before the election has been released, and it significantly beats expectations. 171,000 new jobs have been created, versus an expected 125,000, and both August and September's reports have also been revised up.

However, the unemployment rate has risen by 0.1 percentage points to 7.9 per cent as more people return to the labour market.

As ever, the important caveat remains that the job figures are ±100,000 and the unemployment rate is ±0.2 per cent.

Overall, the news is modestly helpful to Obama, but not a game-changer. If anything, it cements quite how much the narrative of the election has been flipped by the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, with the economic narrative looking less important than it has for quite some time.

The president. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Photo: Getty
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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for International Trade.

Only Nixon, it is said, could have gone to China. Only a politician with the impeccable Commie-bashing credentials of the 37th President had the political capital necessary to strike a deal with the People’s Republic of China.

Theresa May’s great hope is that only Liam Fox, the newly-installed Secretary of State for International Trade, has the Euro-bashing credentials to break the news to the Brexiteers that a deal between a post-Leave United Kingdom and China might be somewhat harder to negotiate than Vote Leave suggested.

The biggest item on the agenda: striking a deal that allows Britain to stay in the single market. Elsewhere, Fox should use his political capital with the Conservative right to wait longer to sign deals than a Remainer would have to, to avoid the United Kingdom being caught in a series of bad deals. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.