The latest monthly US jobs numbers were worse than expected when they finally arrived on Tuesday after being delayed by the government shutdown.
Employers in the US added 148,000 workers in September, well short of the 180,000 that economists had forecast.
However the unemployment rate did drop from 7.3 percent in August to 7.2 percent of the workforce, the lowest level since November 2008.
The jobless rate is calculated from a separate survey of US households, which showed an increase in the number of people in work last month.
Still the latest statistics – including jobs numbers in July revised lower – suggested the world’s biggest economy was losing steam even before the acrimonious budget fight in Washington that closed down the government.
The loss of economic momentum will likely add to the US central bank’s caution in deciding when to trim its stimulus measures.
Officials at the Federal Reserve are also likely to hold off any decision on scaling back their buying of bonds until it becomes clear how much economic damage the budget fight has done.
They will next meet to discuss monetary policy on Oct. 29-30.
The Fed surprised markets last month by sticking to an $85 billion per month bond-buying pace, awaiting more evidence of a strong recovery.
Now, many economists think the Fed will hold off scaling back the stimulus until next year. And the financial markets are betting interest rates will stay low until 2015.