In the weekly report, the Department of Labor said 265,000 new jobless claims filed for the week ending October 28, up 7,000 from the prior week's unrevised figure of 258,000. And wage growth accelerated significantly, hitting its fastest pace (2.8% year-on-year) since the recovery began.
In the last local-level unemployment data to be released before Tuesday's election, the unemployment rate in rural America remains unchanged from a year ago.
The pace at which an economy can expand without stoking inflation - which economists refer to as its speed limit -reflects the rate of growth of the labor force and how much each worker can produce.
"While 161,000 jobs added to payrolls is below expectations, the upward revisions to August and September totaling 44,000 more jobs helps to alleviate worry about the October employment shortfall", he said. Meanwhile, the civilian workforce in October fell by 195,000 after having risen by 444,000 in September. New hiring during the last three months has averaged over 176,000 a month.
The data confirms others we have seen recent months, like a Census Bureau Survey which showed that last year Americans got a bigger raise than during any year since the 1960s, when the Census began recording this measure.
"A solid increase of 161,000 jobs in October, along with upwardly revised figures in September and August, confirm that the labor market is still growing robustly, even if slower than past year", The Conference Board stated.
Slower hiring could actually be good news for workers. Job gains have been steady, but pay raises have only recently become widespread.
Millions of Americans have gone back to work since the last recession.
Average hourly earnings month-on-month: +0.3%. And what's nice about it is that this number avoids all the controversy about how to properly measure "unemployment".
The pace of wage gains exceeded the 2.6 percent median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
That slowdown may reflect jitters about the election and uncertainties about the next president's economic policies.
The private service sector created 142,000 jobs, with education and health services gaining 52,000 jobs. September's hourly wage growth was also upgraded from 0.2 percent to 0.3 percent.
That would be slightly better than September's gain of 156,000 jobs and a 5% unemployment rate. Employment in financial activities was up 14,000 for the month.
The government's underemployment rate dropped to 9.5 per cent in October from 9.7 per cent, while the number of people working part-time for economic reasons was little changed, according to Friday's report.
The pick up in "working age" participation shows people feel more confident about finding work.
Yet many companies are shedding workers. The unemployment rate today is around 5%, half of the painful 10% rate it had hit in late 2009, when the country was hemorrhaging jobs.
Job cuts in October were concentrated in the computer industry, where employers announced 4,792 layoffs. And while home sales have leveled off this year, they have done so at a almost healthy level of 5.5 million.