Employers added 142,000 jobs in September, the Labor Department said on Friday, suggesting that the American economy is losing momentum after a similarly lackluster report for the previous month.
The official unemployment rate held steady at 5.1 percent, and hourly wages for private sector workers were flat after jumping by a relatively robust 0.4 percent in August.
The report for August was revised sharply downward, showing the economy created only 136,000 jobs, well below the 173,000 originally estimated.
Friday’s report came just two weeks after the Federal Reserve decided that the recovery was still too frail to risk lifting interest rates from their near-zero level. While the Fed chairwoman, Janet L. Yellen, later suggested that the Fed was still likely to go ahead with a rate increase before year’s end, the latest evidence of a weakening economy may push any such increase into next year.

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Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial, noted in an analysis before the report’s release that “it would be more reassuring if we could see a point where the economy is truly firing on all cylinders for a change.”
Other reports suggest that while the overall American economy remains sturdy, it has lost steam on several fronts in recent months. The manufacturing sector has been hit by the strong dollar and weak global demand; the oil industry has cut back sharply on investment in response to low prices; and farming has taken a hit because of slumping commodity prices.
Instead, the places to look for sparks, said Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor Economic Research, are in industries like professional and business services, health care, and travel and leisure (where automation cannot take the place of servers and maids). The need to collect, manage and report information along with the expansion of mobile apps in health care and other sectors is also propelling job growth in high technology.
“An increasing trend is the growth of tech jobs in nontech sectors,” Mr. Chamberlain said. “Everybody needs a data scientist these days.”

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Looking at the feeble yearly rise in median wages, Mr. Chamberlain said such figures mask a huge disparity among industries. Referring to data from the summer, he said …Read More