The Labor Department reported on Tuesday that the U.S. economy added 148,000 non-farm payroll jobs in September, lower than the estimate of 183,000 while the unemployment rate lowered to 7.2 percent from 7.3 percent in the previous month.
The U.S. unemployment level has declined by 0.4 percentage point since June.
August had a revised non-farm payroll number of 193,000 from 169,000.
Over the past 12 months, employment growth averaged 185,000 per month.
The weaker than expected non-farm payroll number underscores job weakness in the U.S. economy leading up to the fiscal showdown on Capitol Hill and will likely give the Federal Reserve more time to continue its $85 billion a month quantitative easing program.
The civilian labor force participation rate was unchanged at 63.2 percent in September, the lowest level since the summer of 1978.
Over the year, the labor force participation rate has declined by 0.4 percentage point.
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged in September at 34.5 hours.
The largest job gains came from construction, wholesale trade, and transportation and warehousing.
Transportation and warehousing added 23,000 jobs in September.