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Last Pre-Election Jobs Report Due Out Friday

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And now here's one of the final bits of economic news we may get before the Presidential Election Day. The economy continued adding jobs at a solid pace in October. That's according to government numbers released this morning. NPR's John Ydstie has more.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: An additional 161,000 people were hired by employers last month - a bit below what was forecast - and the unemployment rate ticked down a notch to 4.9 percent. Dan White, a senior economist at Moody's Analytics, says the job growth, though not spectacular, was positive.

DAN WHITE: If you look at some of the details of the report, there are even more positives to be had, the biggest one, of course, being that we had a 0.4 percent increase in wages, which is a sign that we're headed in the right direction.

YDSTIE: Wage growth has been stubbornly slow during this recovery, but after today's report is included, wages have grown 2.8 percent over the last 12 months. But is this jobs report enough to change the minds of many voters?

WHITE: I don't think so. I think this is a very - it's a positive but it's a very run-of-the-mill positive. This wasn't exactly a shock to the upside or the downside. So I'm not sure that this will have much, if any, impact on debt marginal voters.

YDSTIE: Job growth has been one of the most positive features of the U.S. economy over the course of this campaign. Monthly job growth during the past couple of years has averaged over 200,000 a month. White, who oversees the Moody's Analytics presidential election model, says that's a net positive for the party currently in control of the White House. The Moody's model currently predicts a win for Hillary Clinton with 330 electoral votes - many more than the 270 needed. But White says while the model has correctly predicted all the presidential elections since 1980, this one is different.

WHITE: Our model looks at a generic race between a generic Democratic candidate and a generic Republican candidate.

YDSTIE: And White says Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are anything but generic. The Moody's model tilts toward Clinton largely because the economic variables in the model are positive. Those variables include household income, home prices and the price of gasoline. White says while most voters cast their ballots based on party loyalty or ideology, marginal voters often vote based on their economic well-being. Another prominent presidential election model that focuses on broad growth points to a Trump win because growth has been so slow this year. John Ydstie, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.