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US Economy Adds 171K Jobs, Rate Rises To 7.9 Pct.

The economy has added jobs for 25 straight months. There are now 580,000 more than when Obama took office.

But there were also signs of the economy's persistent weakness. Average hourly pay dipped a penny to $23.58. In the past year, pay has risen just 1.6 percent. That has trailed inflation, which rose 2 percent.

The October jobs report was compiled before Superstorm Sandy struck the East Coast earlier this week and devastated many businesses.

The nascent housing recovery is finally generating jobs. Construction firms added 17,000 positions, the most since January. Manufacturers added 13,000 jobs after shedding workers in the previous two months. Professional services such as architects and computer systems providers also added jobs, as did retailers, hotels and restaurants, and education and health care. Government overall shed 13,000 jobs, after three months of gains.

The economy has picked up a bit in recent weeks. Americans are buying more big-ticket items, like cars and appliances. Auto companies reported steady sales gains last month despite losing three days of business to the storm in heavily populated areas of the Northeast.

Yet businesses remain nervous about the economy's future course. Many are concerned that Congress will fail to reach a budget deal before January. If lawmakers can't strike an agreement, sharp tax increases and spending cuts will take effect next year and possibly trigger another recession.

American companies are also nervous about the economic outlook overseas. Europe's financial crisis has pushed much of that region into recession and cut into U.S. exports and corporate profits.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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