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US job growth slows in October; unemployment rate falls to 6.9%

[WASHINGTON] US employers hired the fewest workers in five months in October, offering the clearest evidence yet that the end of fiscal stimulus and exploding new Covid-19 infections were sapping momentum from the economic recovery.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 638,000 jobs last month after rising by 672,000 in September, the Labor Department said in its closely watched employment report on Friday. That was the smallest gain since the jobs recovery started in May and left employment still well below its peak in February.

The unemployment rate fell to 6.9 per cent from 7.9 per cent in September.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls advancing by 600,000 jobs in October and the jobless rate dipping to 7.7 per cent.

The report underscored the challenges the next president, whether it is incumbent Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Joe Biden, confronts to keep the economy growing as it heals from the deepest recession since the Great Depression.

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Mr Biden edged closer to winning the White House early on Friday as he took a narrow lead over Mr Trump in the battleground states of Georgia and Pennsylvania.

More than US$3 trillion in government pandemic relief for businesses and workers fueled a historic 33.1 per cent annualised rate of economic growth in the third quarter. That followed a record 31.4 per cent pace of contraction in the April-June quarter.

REUTERS

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