Former General Electric Co. Chief Executive Officer Jack Welch said the announced unemployment rate decline from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent in September was cooked at the White House to help President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.
The accusation, which appeared on Twitter, triggered a raft of responses from pundits and politicians. U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said the suggestion was "offensive" and "ludicrous."
The Labor Department said the unemployment rate dropped on the addition of 114,000 jobs and the subtraction of 456,000 people considered unemployed last month.
That figure is critical at face value, because 342,000 more people dropped out of the workforce than found jobs.
By close of trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average added 34.79 points, or 0.26 percent, to 13,610.15. The Nasdaq composite index lost 13.27 points, or 0.42 percent, to 3,136.19. The Standard and Poor's 500 index gave up 0.47 points, or 0.03 percent, to 1,460.93.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,715 stocks advanced and 1,292 declined on a volume of 3.1 billion shares traded.
The benchmark 10-year treasury note fell 21/32 to yield 1.75 percent.
The euro rose to $1.3034 from Thursday's $1.3018. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 78.68 yen from 78.50 yen.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index added 0.44 percent, 38.71, to 8,863.30.
In London, the FTSE 100 index gained 0.74 percent, 43.24, to 5,871.02.