WASHINGTON — The US unemployment rate rose to 7.9 percent in October from 7.8 percent the prior month, the government said 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 Labor Department said the unemployment rate was "essentially unchanged" at 7.9 percent, 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.