WASHINGTON — American employers added 166,000 jobs in October — almost twice as many as forecast, countering speculation that the economy was on the verge of recession due to the deepening housing slump.

The report Friday by the Labor Department also showed that the unemployment rate remained at 4.7 percent. The robust job market will enable the six-year expansion to continue into 2008.

"This report will increase the Fed's conviction that it should keep rates unchanged in coming months," said Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Capital in New York and a former senior economist at the Fed. "The labor market continues to be inconsistent with fear of a recession."

Orders to U.S. factories also unexpectedly rose in September, suggesting companies remain confident the economy will continue to grow.

Bookings increased 0.2 percent after a revised 3.5 percent drop the prior month, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Excluding transportation equipment, such as cars and airplanes, demand increased 1.4 percent.

The report showed sales and orders for equipment, such as computers and machinery, rose more than previously estimated. Combined with Labor Department figures that showed a rebound in employment last month, the reports suggest business spending will help cushion the economy from the deepening housing slump.