NEW YORK : The US economic engine brushed past last month’s Hurricane Michael to continue its robust job creation while giving workers a fat pay bump, the government reported Friday. In a welcome development for Republicans ahead of next week’s bitter midterm vote, American employers added 250,000 net new positions in October, handily overshooting forecasts, while salaries rose at the fastest rate since 2009, the Labor Department said. Unemployment held steady at 3.7 percent, a 48-year low. The result was a surprise as some economists had expected the hurricane that made landfall on the Florida panhandle in the middle of the employment survey week to depress reports of hiring and worker pay. Instead, officials said the storm, which disrupted business and life for millions, produced “no discernable effect” on the estimates. Companies kept right on hiring in healthcare, manufacturing, construction, transportation and warehousing.

But perhaps more significant, average hourly earnings, a closely watched measure of worker pay, rose 0.2 percent from September, putting wages 3.1 percent above the year-ago level -- the fastest gain since April 2009. Sluggish worker pay gains despite the healthy jobs market had baffled economists, and the gain now is well above the 2.3 percent pace of consumer inflation.