The report allowed the Romney campaign, however, to argue that the unemployment rate will be higher on Election Day than it was on Inauguration Day in January 2009, when it was 7.8 percent.
"I won't waste any time complaining about my predecessor," Romney said at a rally in West Allis, Wis. "From Day One, I will go to work to help Americans get back to work."
Obama will face voters with the highest unemployment rate of any incumbent since Franklin Roosevelt. It was 7.8 when Gerald Ford lost to Jimmy Carter in 1976, and 7.2 percent when Ronald Reagan trounced Walter Mondale in 1984.
The story of what happened to the economy during Obama's term is, of course, more complicated.
The month Obama took office, the economy lost 818,000 jobs, the worst figure of the Great Recession. During the next 13 months he was in office, the economy lost 4.3 million jobs.
Jobs reports were mixed, with some gains and some losses, for the next seven months. Since the beginning of October 2010, the economy has added 3.9 million jobs. The total for Obama's time in office is growth of 194,000 jobs.
In addition, the Labor Department said in September that 368,000 jobs were created in the year ending in March but have not been assigned to the month-by-month statistics. Adding those jobs, Obama's total is 562,000.
The economy lost 13,000 jobs during George W. Bush's first term and added 1.1 million jobs during his second term. The economy added 11.5 million jobs during Bill Clinton's first term and 11.2 million during his second.
As Obama and Romney face voters, the economy "is showing incredible resilience in the face of significant challenges," said Marple, the TD Bank economist.
Tom Porcelli, an economist at RBC Capital Markets, was less enthusiastic. "The economy is not falling off a cliff, but it's not raging ahead with vigor, either," he said.
Investors also had a measured response. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note jumped to 1.78 percent from 1.72 percent, indicating investors were moving money out of bonds and into stocks, then dropped to 1.71 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average climbed as much as 56 points but closed down 139 points, at 13,093.
The unemployment rate has fallen a full percentage point in the past year. But some of that was because people gave up looking for work, and therefore were no longer counted as unemployed.
That pushed the percentage of Americans working or looking for work to 63.5 percent in August, a 31-year low.
But since then, more Americans have started or resumed their job hunts, and most have found work. The percentage of Americans working or looking for work rose for a second straight month in October to 63.8 percent.
The number of people with part-time jobs who wanted full-time work dropped last month. And the number of people who have stopped looking for work also declined. The so-called underemployment rate, which consists of those two groups plus the unemployed, dipped to 14.6 percent from 14.7 percent.
The government's breakdown of October job growth showed that the housing market is finally generating jobs. Construction companies added 17,000, the most since January. Manufacturers added 13,000 after shedding 27,000 the previous two months.
Professional services such as architects and computer systems providers also added jobs. So did retailers, hotels and restaurants, and health care.
Vocus Inc., a Beltsville, Md., company that makes marketing software, has ramped up hiring this year to keep up with rapid growth in demand. It has nearly doubled its staff to about 750 and plans to add at least 200 next year.
The company is benefiting as more businesses switch from newspaper ads and the Yellow Pages to social media and online search engines. Vocus expects revenue to jump more than 50 percent this year compared with 2011.
Companies "are still willing to make investments in marketing software," Rick Rudman, the chief executive, said. "We're helping people grow their businesses."