File photo by Tim Mossholder/UnSplash

WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s employers kept hiring briskly in October, adding a substantial 261,000 positions, a sign that as Election Day nears, the economy remains a picture of solid job growth and painful inflation.

Friday’s government report showed that last month’s hiring remained near the robust pace it has maintained in the two-plus years since the pandemic recession ended. The unemployment rate rose to 3.7% from a five-decade low of 3.5%.

A strong job market is deepening the challenges the Federal Reserve faces as it raises interest rates at the fastest pace since the 1980s to try to bring inflation down from near a 40-hear high. Steady hiring, solid pay growth and a low unemployment rate have been good for workers. But they have also contributed to rising prices.

The October jobs figures were the last major economic report before Election Day, with voters keenly focused on the state of the economy and on their own financial lives.

All the jobs that employers have added since the recession ended have boosted the ability of consumers to keep spending, even amid high inflation. A labor shortage in many areas of the economy also compelled businesses to pay more to attract and keep workers.

President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats have pointed to the vigorous resurgence in hiring as evidence that their policies have helped get Americans back to work faster than the nation managed to do after previous downturns.

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