The U.S. labor market unexpectedly added 204,000 jobs in October, defying economists' predictions that last month's partial government shutdown would slow hiring.
However, the government also reported Friday that the national jobless rate inched up last month from 7.2 percent to 7.3 percent - the first time the figure has risen since May. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the increase - at least in part - was due to the political dispute that closed most government officers during the first half, when 800,000 federal workers were furloughed.
Many American economists had predicted that hiring eased last month. But the government report said new jobs were added in several sectors of the economy, including leisure and hospitality, retail trade, professional services and manufacturing.
The government also revised job growth numbers upward for August and September, saying that an additional 60,000 people were added to payrolls in those months.
The latest job numbers follow a report Thursday that the American economy, the world's largest, advanced by 2.8 percent in the July-to-September period, when some analysts thought it had slowed.
In the early months of 2013, the U.S. was adding an average of more than 200,000 jobs a month. The job growth figure weakened through the summer months, but government studies show employers are now laying off fewer workers and some businesses hiring more.
Policy makers at the U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve, are watching the economic trends before deciding whether to trim stimulus measures they have taken to try to boost the country's economy, which is still recovering FROM the deepest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.