Despite the additions, the nation's unemployment rate edged up to 7.9 percent in October from 7.8 percent the previous month - mainly because more people began looking for work.
The uptick in unemployment shows that job seekers are feeling more confident about their prospects, but it also reveals that many are still not finding work.
"This is a good news/bad news report," said Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. "We welcome the improvement in the economy and the job gains. We're continuing to see momentum in the labor market ... I just wish it were a little stronger."
Friday's numbers offered the last broad snapshot of the economy before Tuesday's presidential election. Both sides have seized on the report to make their case with voters.
"We've made real progress, but we are here today because we know we've got more work to do," President Barack Obama said.
GOP challenger Mitt Romney noted that the nation's jobless rate is now higher than when Obama took office.
"We can do better," he said.
The government revised its data to show that 84,000 more jobs were added in August and September than previously estimated. August's job gains were revised from 142,000 to 192,000, September's from 114,000 to 148,000.
The economy has added jobs for 25 straight months. There are now 580,000 more jobs than when Obama took office.
"One of the pieces of this story that doesn't get much attention is that if you set aside the monthly gains, the economy has been adding jobs on a fairly regular basis," Kleinhenz said. "It's been 1.4 percent year-over-year job gains throughout 2012. That steady-as-she-goes kind of momentum is reassuring."
Since July, the nation's economy has created an average of 173,000 jobs a month, up from 67,000 a month from April through June.
The work force - the number of people either working or looking for work - rose by 578,000 in October. And 410,000 more people said they were employed. The difference is the reason the unemployment rate rose slightly.
Kleinhenz warned, however, that the "fiscal cliff" presents a wildcard for future economic growth.
U.S. policymakers are deadlocked over how to rein in the federal deficit before the end of the year. If no action is taken, significant increases in taxes and cuts in government spending will automatically begin to take effect.
"If we fall off the fiscal cliff it could wreak havoc and cause a recession starting in the first half of the year," Kleinhenz said.
The biggest gains last month occurred in professional and business services, which added 51,000 new jobs. That sector includes everything from architects and accountants, to engineers, computer systems design and advertising.
Retail trade added 36,000 jobs, health care added 31,000 and leisure and hospitality - which includes hotels, restaurants, theme parks and museums - boosted its payrolls with 28,000 new jobs.
The construction sector - which in September showed a decline of 3,400 jobs in Los Angeles County and a slight uptick in the Inland Empire - added 17,000 jobs nationwide last month.
Gains in construction have been hard to come by in Southern California. But a groundbreaking was held Thursday in San Gabriel for a grade-separation project that's expected to create 8,900 jobs over the next five years. The $336.5 million project will create a 1.4 mile-long trench that will lower a section of the Union Pacific Railroad track through the city, eliminating traffic backups.
A slew of contractors, including Steve Bubalo Construction Co. in Monrovia, Alcorn Fence in Sun Valley and Meyer, Mohaddes & Associates in Ontario, will be involved in the work.
Steve Bubalo said his company's job will be to relocate sewage and drainage lines.
"Right now the lines are maybe 10 feet down, but we'll move them to a depth of 35 to 40 feet," he said. "We'll have 10 to 20 people working on it."
Renovation work is also under way at the Subaru-Mitsubishi of San Bernardino dealership to include a separate showroom and offices for Subaru.
It's a move that will generate at least 10 new jobs between the two dealerships, according to Mike Graeber, the dealership's general manager.
"With the separate identities, we anticipate increased sales and increased service," Graeber said.
The jobs will include new people in sales, service and other areas of the dealership.
Kenn Phillips, vice president of The Valley Economic Alliance in Sherman Oaks, said his agency recently held a large job fair in which employers were collectively looking to fill 1,800 positions.
"Whenever we do these events we ask the employers, `Are you looking to hire people at the low end, or for higher-paying jobs?"' Phillips said. "This job fair was unique because they were hiring for middle-level and higher-level positions. And a lot of them were high-tech jobs. There was some entry-level retail, but not much."
Phillips said employers also seem to be bringing on more full-time workers.
"What we saw two years ago was a lot of hiring through temp agencies," he said. "Businesses were reluctant to hire full-time because it's difficult to lay someone off once they're on the payroll. But now we're seeing more full-time hiring. It shows they have confidence in what they see in the future."
The most recent local figures show that Los Angeles County's unemployment rate dipped to 10.6 percent in September from 11 percent in August and 12.4 percent a year earlier. The county added 66,100 jobs year over year, according to the state Employment Development Department.
The Inland Empire's unemployment rate dropped to 11.6 percent in September compared with 12.3 percent in August and 13.5 percent a year earlier. The two-county region added 16,400 jobs over the year.
New local numbers are scheduled to be released Nov. 16.
Staff writer Melissa Pinion-Whitt and The Associated Press contributed to this report.