Jobs data shows better-than-expected growth, as Obama and Romney campaigns seek to spin the figures into politics.
Some 171,000 new jobs were created in the US in October, a key report has revealed.
The boost in recruitment will give some comfort to President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, as he and Republican opponent Mitt Romney race across the US in the final days before polls close on Tuesday night.
The report from the bureau of labour statistics also said 84,000 more jobs were created in August and September than initially estimated - a hopeful sign that the country's economic recovery is becoming more robust.
Despite the extra jobs, the unemployment rate - a key focus in the neck-and-neck race for the White House - has ticked up by a tenth of a percentage point to 7.9 per cent, a shift which is being seen as a correction to an underestimation of September's unexpectedly sharp 0.3 percentage point fall.
James Braxton Peterson, a political analyst and director of Africana Studies at Lehigh University, told Al Jazeera's Ayse Alibeyoglu the jobs report "will not make much of a difference in this tight election".
"This is a good report no matter how you look at it. The economy is steadily recovering. The slight uptick from 7.8 to 7.9 actually reflects job seekers’ confidence in the market. Thus there are slightly more people looking for jobs as a result of their confidence the job market," Peterson said.
"When we consider the longer arc of the US stock market in conjunction with the consistent creation of jobs from month to month we have to conclude that the economy slowly, but steadily continues to improve."
However, Romney issued a harsh assessment of the jobs report despite early consensus from economic analysts that the better-than-expected data showed positive growth for the US economy.
"Today's increase in the unemployment rate is a sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill," Romney said, adding that the jobless rate is higher than it was when Obama took office in early 2009.
"For four years, President Obama's policies have crushed America's middle class. For four years, President Obama has told us that things are getting better and that we're making progress," Romney added.
"For too many American families, those words ring hollow. We can do better," and "when I'm president, I'm going to make real changes that lead to a real recovery, so that the next four years are better than the last."
While the rise in the jobless rate was expected, the increase in payrolls beat even the most optimistic forecast in a Reuters poll.
The monthly report is one of the most closely watched indicators of the US economy's health and regularly sets the tone for financial markets worldwide. Trading in global markets had been sluggish on Friday morning in anticipation of the announcement, but the dollar rose swiftly against both the euro and the yen following the announcement.
This is the eighth straight month of job growth, although growth in many of those months was somewhat lacklustre - a trend that will likely reinforce the Federal Reserve's resolve to keep easy money policies in place until the economy shows more vigour.
"The weakness in overall economic growth momentum has extended into the last quarter of the year," said Millan Mulraine, an economist at TD Securities in New York.
Romney has made the sluggishness of growth in the jobs market the centrepiece of his campaign. The latest Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll showed Obama and Romney in a dead heat.
The report is likely to provide fuel for both candidates. Some economists have noted an increase in the jobless rate might have a silver lining if it is driven by Americans pouring into the labour market to restart job hunts.
Even sustained monthly gains of 171,000 would likely bring down the jobless rate only slowly. With the relative strength seen in the report, a full recovery from the 2007-09 recession remains distant.
The jobless rate, which peaked during the recession at ten percent, remains about three percentage points above its pre-recession level.
Despite the noise made by both candidates' campaigns around the report, the impact on voters will likely be muted, as most perceptions on the economy appear by now to be firmly fixed.
Ryan Grim, the Washington bureau chief for The Huffington Post, told Al Jazeera that the jobs report would make little difference at this late stage in the election.
"There are very few undecided voters left. I'd actually like to meet the person who's waiting on this jobs report to make up his or her mind," he said.
Last month's jobs report evoked much criticism from Romney supporters, including a comment by former General Electric chief executive Jack Welch that the numbers were "unbelievable" and Obama's "Chicago guys will do anything".