Nonfarm payroll rose by a lower than expected 661,000 in September and the unemployment rate was 7.9%, the Labor Department said Friday in the final jobs report before the November election.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting a payrolls gain of 800,000 and the unemployment rate to fall to 8.2% from 8.4% in August.
The decline in the unemployment rate came along with a 0.3 percentage point drop in the labor force participation rate to 61.4%.
Leisure and hospitality led job gains with 318,000 while retail added 142,000 and health care and social assistance increased by 108,000.
Despite the deceleration in job creation, there were some positive signs as the economy continues its pandemic-era recovery.
Those reporting being on temporary layoff fell by 1.5 million to 4.6 million. Workers holding part-time jobs for economic reasons fell by 1.3 million to 6.3 million, and the totals for longer-term layoffs also fell considerably.
The report comes amid a raft of mostly positive economic signals, including strong signs from the housing market and retail spending, as well as worries that rising coronavirus cases could threaten the recovery.
While millions more remain unemployed, September’s activity means that about 12 million jobs have been recovered since the mid-March economic shutdown that saw about 22 million layoffs.
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