There were mixed signals on US jobs in July.
Employers there slowed their pace of hiring but at the same time the jobless rate fell.
The number of people in work increased by 162,000.
That was below the forecast by analysts, who were looking for 184,000.
In addition, the US Labour Department lowered its previous estimates for hiring in May and June.
The jobless rate did fall to 7.4 percent of the workforce from 7.6 percent last month.
That is the lowest in over four years. Gains in employment did play a part, but much of that decline, was due to the labour force shrinking.
The lackluster reading reinforced the view that the job market is only inching toward recovery from the recession, with the broader US economy stuck in low gear.
Americans on average also worked shorter work weeks in July, while hourly wages fell. That does not bode well for future consumer spending, which is the engine of the US economy.
The weak showing could make the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, more cautious about winding down its huge economic stimulus programme, which Fed chairman Ben Bernanke has stressed is directly linked to improved employment.