WASHINGTON — The U.S. October employment data showed somewhat mixed results, with payrolls playing catch-up to validate a declining unemployment rate but with companion data a little weaker. Moreover, the report mainly was processed before Hurricane Sandy struck, so there was no storm effect.

Overall the October employment report was on the strong side, with October payrolls printing up 171,000 and September-August jobs revised up 84,000 in total, showing catch-up to the better trends seen in the household survey. Payrolls are our favorite gauge of jobs because the survey from which they derive has a larger sample and a smaller margin of error than the household survey.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the hurricane had "no discernable effect" on the data because the household calls were completed before storm and the establishment responses were within the normal range.

The unemployment rate rose 0.1-point to 7.9% after declining 0.5-point in the prior two months. The labor force and participation rate rose. The fact remains that unemployment seems to be on a declining trend.

Average hourly earnings fell one cent for a 1.6% gain over the year, and hours dipped, suggesting soft incomes and production ahead.

The payroll composition was as it has been recently: manufacturing rose 13,000, construction grew 17,000, retail increased 36,400, temporary jobs gained 13,600, restaurants jumped 22,900, healthcare increased 30,500, and government fell 13,000 (on dips across areas).

A bottom line is that this was a decent report. The average monthly jobs gain so far in 2012, however, is 157,000, and the economy will have to do a lot better than that to surge ahead.

Market News International is a real-time global news service for fixed-income and foreign exchange market professionals. See www.marketnews.com.

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