The U.S. economy added just 194,000 jobs in September after forecasters had predicted 500,000 new jobs would be added, according to the Labor Department.
It was the second month of tepid job numbers, as some economists blamed impacts from the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus.
Unemployment fell from 5.2% in August to 4.8% in September, but that only measures people who are actively looking for jobs.
The September jobs report found that those in the labor force who have a job or are looking for one fell from 61.7% to 61.%. Before the pandemic, the labor participation rate was 63.3%.
Job gains in August were revised up from 235,000 to 366,000.
Some sectors, including hospitality, professional business services, retail and transportation and warehousing did see jobs gains last month.
Forecasters had predicted a more robust jobs number in non-farm sectors because of schools reopening, the end of many federal unemployment benefits and an uptick in the number of Americans getting vaccines.
“This is quite a deflating report,” said Nick Bunker, economic research director at job placement site Indeed in an interview with CNBC. “This year has been one of false dawns for the labor market. Demand for workers is strong and millions of people want to return to work, but employment growth has yet to find its footing.”
Some information in this report comes from The Associated Press.