The American economy created 171,000 jobs in October but the nation’s unemployment rate edged up from 7.8 percent to 7.9 percent due to additional workers joining the labor force.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)  also estimated that 84,000 additional jobs were added during the prior two months – further improving the nation’s employment outlook.

Meanwhile the nation’s underemployment rate – a broader, more accurate measure of joblessness – edged down from 14.7 to 14.6 percent.

Will the hiring uptick last though?  Serious storm clouds are on the global economic horizon – and then there’s the threat of looming tax hikes here at home.  Both of these factors could make sustained job growth difficult.

At least 130,000 new jobs need to be created every month to keep pace with the population growth – a figure that’s now been exceeded in back-to-back months.

Of course prior reductions in the unemployment rate were largely the result of a shrinking labor pool – not the addition of new jobs.  The U.S. labor force – which reached a 30-year low of 63.5 percent earlier this year – edged up to 63.8 percent last month.  That’s good news – but still well below the 65.7 percent level that U.S. President Barack Obama inherited.

South Carolina’s unemployment rate fell from 9.6 to 9.1 percent in September, although that decline was due exclusively to public sector (i.e. taxpayer-funded) hiring.  The Palmetto State’s labor participation rate remains well below 60 percent.  In fact in August the rate was at 58.3 percent – an all-time low.