Officials at the US Labor Department say the economy added 194,000 jobs in September. That is the fewest in nine months and far below the 500,000 that economists had expected.
Not all sectors were left behind, though. Hiring in leisure and hospitality rose by 74,000, and restaurants and bars 29,000. Retailers added 56,000 jobs.
Economists had expected the job market to get a boost from the phasing out of pandemic-related unemployment benefits. However, many jobless people appear to be in no hurry to start looking for work, and others have dropped out of the job market entirely. The overall unemployment rate fell from 5.2 percent to 4.8 percent.
US President Joe Biden said the unemployment figures are a significant improvement from when he took office and a sign that recovery is moving forward even in the face of the COVID pandemic.
He added that the economy has been making consistent and steady progress, but he would like to see the pace pick up.