US jobs growth slowed for the third straight month in September.
Employers hired 156,000 people. Economists had predicted 175,000.
The August total was revised up, but both August and September were below the monthly average so far this year of about 180,000.
The jobless rate ticked up from 4.9 to 5.0 percent last month, but that increase was due to Americans rejoining the workforce.
“It’s strong enough that you’re not worried about the US slipping” into an economic slump, said Michael Jones, an investment officer at RiverFront Investment Group in Richmond, Virginia. “But it’s not so strong that it precipitates immediate action from the Fed.”
Employment is a key issue in the presidential election campaign with Republican candidate Donald Trump making a lot of noise about reversing job losses at US factories.
This was the last employment report before the November policy meeting of the US central bank.
The financial world sees little prospect of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates then given how close that meeting is to the election, so the betting is on a hike in December.
The Fed lifted its benchmark overnight interest rate at the end of last year for the first time in nearly a decade, but has held it steady so far this year amid concerns over persistently low inflation.