The pace of hiring in the US weakened dramatically in May, hit by high energy prices and the Japanese earthquake hurting US manufacturers.
The number of Americans in work rose far less than expected – up by just 54,000.
Private employers added 83,000 jobs while the US government cut payrolls by 29,000.
Economists had expected payrolls to rise 150,000 and private hiring to increase 175,000 in May
The jobless rate rose to 9.1 percent of the workforce and April’s rate was revised upwards to nine percent from 8.9 percent, though economists
credit the rise to discouraged workers who had been inspired by a pick-up in hiring in April re-entered the labour market.
The job creation slowdown confirmed the economic weakness already flagged up by other data including consumer spending and manufacturing.
Retail employment, which recorded its largest increase in 10 years in April, fell by 8,500 last month.
Manufacturing payrolls growth contracted by 5,000, while construction employment rose 2,000.
However, many economists still believe this will be temporary. They blame high fuel prices, bad weather and disruptions to car production because of a shortage of parts from Japan.