Unemployment falls to 4.9 percent before election

WASHINGTON — America’s economy stayed on track before the U.S. election.

The U.S. economy added 161,000 jobs in October, a solid gain yet below the 191,000 jobs added in September, according to the Labor Department. It is the last look at the health of the economy for Americans voters before they cast their ballots.

Unemployment fell a tick to 4.9 percent. That’s down by half since 2009, when unemployment peaked at 10 percent.

Wage growth — one of the last metrics to move in the right direction post-recession — continued to show signs of accelerating. Wages grew 2.8 percent in October compared to a year ago, the fastest monthly growth since June 2009.

The jobs report has become a divisive subject in the presidential election. Donald Trump has called the official unemployment rate a “hoax” and he’s tried to discredit the Labor Department’s official numbers.

Trump said the unemployment rate is closer to 10 percent, using a broader measure of unemployment, which also counts some part time workers as unemployed. Labor Department has never relied on this measure to describe the country’s key unemployment rate.

October’s gains marked the 73rd consecutive month of job gains for the U.S. economy.