by: CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER Updated:
WASHINGTON - U.S. employers added 204,000 jobs in October, an unexpected burst of hiring during a month in which the federal government was partially shut down for 16 days.
The Labor Department says the unemployment rate rose to 7.3 percent from 7.2 percent in September, likely because furloughed federal workers were counted as unemployed. The report noted that the shutdown did not affect total jobs.
Employers also added 60,000 more jobs in the previous two months than earlier estimated.
The figures suggest hiring has picked up in the fall. Employers added an average of 202,000 jobs from August through October, up from 146,000 from May through July.
The percentage of Americans working or looking for work fell to a fresh 35-year low. But that figure was likely distorted by the shutdown, too.