Depending on which Labor Department survey is used, employment in the U.S. either surged the most in 29 years or grew the least in three months.

Employers added 114,000 workers to payrolls last month, the fewest since June, according to the Labor Department's survey of employers released in Washington today. A separate poll of households showed hiring surged by 873,000, the biggest gain since June 1983 excluding annual Census population adjustments. The surge helped push down the jobless rate to 7.8 percent, the lowest since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009.

Averaging the job gains of the two surveys helps produce a more consistent view of the labor market as Americans prepare to head to the polls to choose between Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. The unexpected drop in the jobless rate prompted former General Electric Co. head Jack Welch to accuse the White House of manipulating the data.

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