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The nation gained 171,000 jobs in October, beating economists' estimates of 120,000, but the unemployment rate rose to 7.9% from September's 7.8%. The report will probably be politically neutral: Republicans can point to the rise in the unemployment rate, Democrats can tout the jobs gain. The public normally focuses on the unemployment rate, but the increase may not be enough to sway voters much. September and August jobs gains were revised upward by a combined 84,000, but average hourly wages fell a penny to $23.58. The survey was conducted before Sandy hit.

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