John Bazemore, Associated Press
In this Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, photo, Donald Smith, of Atlanta, files out an application at the National Job Fair in Atlanta. The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 367,000, a level consistent with only modest hiring on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. The Labor Department says applications increased last week by 4,000 from the previous week's level of 363,000.

WASHINGTON — The government is issuing new unemployment data that is expected to underscore the slow economic recovery and ensure that jobs remain the top issue of the presidential campaign. The data comes just a month before the election as President Barack Obama seeks to slow a newly invigorated rival.

Friday's release of numbers reflecting September hiring and unemployment follows a presidential debate dominated by the economy. The debate boosted Republican challenger Mitt Romney and left Obama on the defensive.

Economists predict employers added 111,000 jobs last month, up from the 96,000 jobs added in August. The jobless rate is expected to inch up from 8.1 percent.

While the slow recovery has been a drag on Obama politically, the monthly jobless numbers have not markedly altered the trajectory of the presidential campaign.