Employers added a mere 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, but hourly wages for private sector workers actually fell slightly after jumping by a relatively robust 0.4 percent in August.
The employment 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. The latest evidence of a weakening economy may push any rate increase into next year even though the Fed chairwoman, Janet L. Yellen, had previously suggested that the central bank was likely to go ahead with a rate increase before year’s end.

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“There’s nothing good in this morning’s report,” said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust in Chicago. “We had very low levels of job creation, wage growth isn’t budging, and the unemployment rate would have risen if the labor force participation rate hadn’t fallen.”
Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor Economic Research, agreed. “Unfortunately today’s report will not give much reassurance to Fed policy makers,” he said.
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.
The American economy now appears to be importing some of the global economic malaise. “Although the jobs market has been resilient recently,” Mr. Chamberlain said, “it’s starting to show the impact of slowing growth in Europe and China.”

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He noted the biggest losers were in mining, logging and manufacturing, while health care, the leisure and hospitality and professional and business services industries remained strong. There were also 24,000 new government jobs created.
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