IN SURPRISING TURNAROUND, ECONOMY ADDS 150K JOBS IN OCTOBER…. John Boehner likes to ask, “Where are the jobs?” This morning, the question was a little easier to answer.

The monthly employment picture from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, released the first Friday of every month, was starting to look repetitious. From June through September, public-sector losses offset private-sector gains, and the result was an employment picture that couldn’t get its head above water. Today’s report on October’s employment numbers was supposed to be more of the same — economists projected a gain of just 60,000 jobs.

Thankfully, the report was far more encouraging.

Employers added the most jobs in five months in October, with the education and health care sectors leading the way.

But the unemployment rate, measured by a separate survey of households, refused to budge. It remained stuck at 9.6 percent for the third straight month.

The Labor Department says its survey of employers showed a net gain of 151,000 jobs last month, the most since May. Wall Street analysts expected a smaller gain.

This was easily the most encouraging jobs report since April. The private sector, meanwhile, added 159,000 jobs, also the strongest since April, and the second best month since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2007. The public sector, which had hemorrhaged jobs over the summer, lost only 8,000 jobs, which obviously isn’t good, but was better than it’s been.

Also note, the numbers for August and September were both revised upwards significantly, putting the larger trend of recent months in a more positive light.

Right about now, there are countless Democratic campaign consultants screaming at their monitors, saying, “This report couldn’t have come out last month?”

It’s important to emphasize that the economy adding 151,000 jobs in October really is good news, but it’s only a step in the right direction. Given the hole we’re digging ourselves out of, coupled with population growth, the economy is going to have to generate much stronger totals to bring the unemployment rate down.

That said, this morning’s report is a pleasant surprise, and offers some hope for the future. And if Fox News gives Republicans credit for this, I’m jumping out the window.

Once again, here’s the homemade chart I run on the first Friday of every month, showing monthly job losses since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction — red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.