U.S. employers added 248,000 jobs last month, in a burst of hiring that drove down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008.
Friday's report on hiring is the most significant gauge of the economy's health ahead of Nov. 4 congressional elections. While President Barack Obama's message of an improving economy has been hampered by persistent drops in family incomes under his watch, the hiring data underscored the strides made in the labor market this year. There were some downsides in the report. Notably, part of the decline in the unemployment rate was because workers left the labor force. The share of the population with jobs or hunting for one fell to 62.7 percent, its lowest level since 1978. That rate has declined in recent years as more workers have retired and as people have given up job hunts due to a weak economy. Still, a measure of unemployment that partially takes into account worker discouragement - which the government calls the U-6 rate - fell last month to 11.8 percent, its lowest since October 2008.
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-- Reuters, CNBC and The Associated Press