WASHINGTON -- The last monthly employment report before the presidential election comes out Friday -- and it looks as though October will be another month of modest job gains.
A widely followed survey released Thursday by a payroll processing firm found that the private sector added 158,000 jobs in October. Though that's considerably more than what analysts were projecting, the survey by Automatic Data Processing Inc. has overshot the official government tally by an average of about 50,000 in recent months.
Forecasters are expecting the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday to report payroll gains of about 125,000 for October. That would be a tad better than the 114,000 net increase in September but still just barely enough to keep pace with the growth in the workforce population.
Also Thursday, the Labor Department reported that new jobless claims dipped last week to 363,000 -- a drop of 9,000 from the prior week. Filings for new unemployment benefits have been highly volatile in recent weeks, but the underlying trend suggests no major change in layoff patterns.