US nonfarm payrolls increased by a lower-than-expected 661,000 in September, highlighting slowing job creation and an economy losing momentum.
Economists had expected payroll gains of 800,000 and an unemployment rate of 8.2%. On a bright note, the jobless rate for the month fell to 7.9% from 8.4% in August.
In the final jobs report before the November election, the Labor Department data on Friday underscored a dramatic slowdown in hiring. The economy has regained just over half of the more than 22 million jobs lost in March and April, and the unemployment rate has fallen sharply since it reached a record high of nearly 15% in April.
But the slowdown trend has been telling: Payrolls jumped by 1.5 million in August with 4.8 million jobs added in June.
Economists warn that permanent losses could worsen if Congress does not provide more aid to households and businesses to replace the programs that expired over the summer.
Nevertheless, leisure and hospitality led job gains with 318,000 while retail added 142,000 and health care and social assistance increased by 108,000.
As expected, government was the biggest drag on the month, losing 216,000 due to a drop in local and state government education as many schools maintained at-home instruction due to the virus. A reduction in Census workers also pulled 34,000 from the total.
In other sectors, health care and social assistance gained 108,000, professional and business services contributed 89,000 and the transportation and warehousing sector was up 74,000. Manufacturing grew by 66,000, financial activities added 37,000 and the other services category rose by 36,000.
Stocks fell following the news. The DJIA recently traded down 0.85% to 27,581.
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