Unemployment Under 8 Percent For Second Straight Month

For the second straight month, unemployment numbers remained below 8 percent, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday that at 7.9 percent, October's rate remained "essentially unchanged" from the 7.8 percent rate in September.

This is a full point lower than in October 2011, when the unemployment rate was 8.9 percent.

September's numbers were the first time in nearly four years that unemployment dropped below 8 percent, making the twice-in-a-row feat significant because it could indicate that economic recovery, while slow, is real. Some economists have predicted that the recovery will become more apparent in 2013.

More good news with the report: hiring was stronger in September and October than previously thought, and 171,000 jobs were added in October. It was also the 25th straight month that the economy has added jobs.

More people started looking for work in October, which could be an indicator of increased optimism in the job market.

The one bleak spot on the report: though the number of "marginally attached" workers dropped, the number of discouraged workers rose from September, though significantly lower than this time last year.

Marginally attached workers are workers not counted in the unemployment numbers because they have not searched for work in four weeks at the time of the survey. This blanket category includes everything from discouraged workers to people not job hunting due to school or family obligations. The drop in marginally attached workers is why the number ticked upward slightly from September to October.

The unemployment rate was highest among teens, where the rate for October was 23.7 percent. Adults over 20 had a lower unemployment rate than the national average, with unemployment at 7.3 percent for men over 20 and 7.2 for women over 20. When broken down by race or ethnicity, African-Americans had the highest unemployment rate at 14.3 percent and Asians had the lowest at 4.9 percent. Whites had an unemployment rate of 7 percent in October, while those of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity had an unemployment rate of 10 percent.

Being the final unemployment numbers to be released before the presidential election, October's announcement is a mixed bag for both candidates. President Obama faces the highest unemployment rate of an incumbent since Franklin Roosevelt, providing opponent Mitt Romney with an opening to argue that recovery is not fast enough under the president's stewardship and new policies are needed.

The Romney campaign released a statement shortly after the numbers were released, calling the unemployment rate "a sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill," and calling for Americans to make a choice between "stagnation and prosperity."

Obama, on the other hand, can point at more than two years of monthly job growth and unemployment remaining below the 8 percent benchmark for two months as evidence that he pulled the country out of the depths of the recession, and the country is beginning to go in the right direction. His campaign has not released a statement yet.

With millions of ballots already cast, the latest unemployment numbers could also do little to tip the race in one direction or the other.