The Labor Department's closely watched monthly employment report today also showed a steady rise in wages, suggesting moderate inflation pressures.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls increasing by 185,000 jobs in September and the unemployment rate falling one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.8%.
There were fewer jobs, however, added to the USA economy in September than analysts expected. department figures showed about 134,000 new jobs for September - well below the 185,000 anticipated by experts.
Hurricane Florence, the storm that made landfall along the mid-Atlantic US coast on September 14, caused widespread disruption for homes and employers but it was not possible to determine the extent to which this might have depressed the September jobs numbers, officials said. Average hourly earnings rose 2.8% over the year, slightly above the average over the past year but down from last month's increase. The average workweek was unchanged at 34.5 hours.
This could ease concerns about the economy overheating and keep the Federal Reserve on a path of gradual interest rate increases.
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Economists had expected job creation to slow to 1,84,000, even with the hurricane impact, from the 2,70,000 net new positions created in August.
Average hourly earnings rose 0.3 per cent from the prior month, matching estimates, following a downwardly revised 0.3 per cent gain, the report showed.
The weakness in payrolls last month is not corroborated by other labor market data. Bond yields spiked following the jobs report, with the benchmark 10-Year Treasury hitting 3.24% - its highest level in more than seven years. As more slack is squeezed out of the labor market, economists expect annual wage growth to hit 3 percent. "The standard measures just don't reflect those increases well, if at all". Service providers increased payrolls by 75,000 workers, the lowest in a year, as retail also showed a 20,000 decline.
Significant jobs growth was seen in professional and business services, healthcare and construction.
Manufacturing payrolls likely rebounded in September after declining in August for the first time in 13 months amid a drop in employment at motor vehicle assembly plants. In fact, the Fed's latest survey of national business conditions reflected concerns about labor shortages that are extending into non-skilled occupations as much as about tariffs.
The Commerce Department said on Friday the trade gap increased 6.4 percent to US$53.2 billion, widening for a third straight month.
This comes despite USA president Donald Trump's tariffs on goods from countries including China and those of the European Union. The United States has since struck a trade deal with Canada and Mexico.