WASHINGTON - The US unemployment rate probably rose in October as employers stepped up hiring only slightly, underscoring President Barack Obama's vulnerability in next week's presidential election.
Employers likely added 125,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, according to a Reuters survey of economists. That would be up from 114,000 in September, but would fall short of what is needed to quickly cut the jobless rate.
Indeed, economists expect the unemployment rate -- a key focus in the neck-and-neck race for the White House -- to tick up by a tenth of a percentage point to 7.9 percent, reversing part of a surprise drop seen in September.
The Labor Department's closely watched report, which will be released at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT) on Friday, will be the last major report card on the economy before Tuesday's presidential election, which pits President Obama against Republican Mitt Romney.