The October labor market report for the U.S., released Friday morning, suggests modest improvement for the economy at the start of the fourth quarter. Employment rose at a satisfactory pace, with gains spread widely by sector. Although the jobless rate ticked higher, it reversed only one third of the previous month’s fall, and the October increase reflected a jump in participation (such that the employment-to-total-population ratio actually moved up). While wage increases remain meager, job gains are keeping total household income climbing at a pace consistent with decent consumer spending growth (especially because inflation is going through a soft patch, supporting real income).

A few specifics:

– Jobs increased 171,000 in the establishment survey, with upward revisions to the two previous months totaling 84,000. That puts the three-month average at 170,000, a pace generally consistent with (1) a slowly falling unemployment rate; and (2) economic growth at a trend-like or slightly better pace.

– Consensus expected a 125,000 payroll figure, though that number probably would have moved higher in the wake of yesterday’s strong-looking ADP employment survey, to perhaps 150,000. Friday’s report thus represents a modest upside surprise.

– The establishment survey found job growth across most sectors, including manufacturing, construction and many services. The increase in manufacturing employment corroborates October’s improvement in the ISM survey, suggesting that industrial weakness — a global phenomenon of the past several months — may have run its course. Within services, retail and restaurant jobs showed strong gains. By contrast, the mining sector, often thought of as one of the economy’s most dynamic, has shed jobs for five consecutive months. Natural gas activity has slowed this year in the face of weak prices.

– The unemployment rate rose one tenth of a percent to 7.9 percent. In September it had fallen 0.3 points to 7.8 percent. The October rise, however, does not look like bad news: Employment in this part of the report (which is distinct from the establishment survey) rose strongly for the second consecutive month, by 410K. The labor force grew even more quickly, though, pushing up the reported jobless rate. Employment as a share of the total population climbed to 58.8 percent, versus 58.7 percent in September. That ratio still looks miserable compared with precrisis figures (which typically ran within a 62 to 64 percent range) but does represent a post-Lehman high.