The official unemployment rate in October ticked up to 7.9 percent as more people entered the workforce to look for jobs. Those folks were no doubt encouraged by what the other part of today's Labor Department jobs report shows: The economy added 171,000 jobs last month.
The commerce department says factory orders jumped about five percent in September, driven by aircraft sales. What investors think of the jobs report is one thing; what voters think may be quite another or not. This is, of course, the last monthly jobs report before Tuesday's election, and 7.9 percent unemployment is not anything an incumbent would wish for. In modern times, three presidents have been booted from office with October unemployment above seven percent: Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and the first George Bush. But one has been re-elected: Ronald Reagan, in 1984, with essentially the same 7.5 percent unemployment rate he had when he took office. One more point to this factoid: Today's 7.9 percent is the highest unemployment rate in place at any election since the Great Depression.
As part of our election coverage this year, our Marketplace Wealth and Poverty desk asked comedians what they think about the issues. Yes, the future policy path of our country is serious business, but who says we can't have a little fun? You may know comedian Nick Kroll from his roll on the TV show "The League." But Kroll has also been running the numbers on this election which has left him a bit befuddled.
And now, just to cleanse the palate from election and jobs-related matters, a nifty branding tie-up for you: Part One of the Hobbit comes out this month. And The Hobbit was largely filmed in New Zealand. With that in mind, Air New Zealand this week rolled out its new in-flight safety video. A hairy hobbit foot properly pushes a carry-on bag underneath the seat. Gollum hisses at the exit row lights. Gandalf has his big pipe slapped out his mouth -- no smoking, of course. It's fully endorsed: Director Peter Jackson scrambles to find his precious ring under the seat.