The latest job report shows that employment growth grinds to a halt in August as the economy fails to create new jobs in the midst of double-dip recession worries.
Economists had expected employment to raise 75,000 last month, but they cautioned against viewing the data as a surefire sign of recession.
Employment was dampened by 45,000 striking workers at Verizon Communications. Those workers have since returned to their jobs and will be counted as on the payroll in September.
But even taking that into account, the job report was largely bleak. The unemployment rate, however, held at 9.1 percent as a survey of households found both employment growth and, for the first time in a year, an expanding labor force.
With the jobless rate stuck above 9.0 percent and confidence collapsing, President Barack Obama faces pressure to come up with ways to spur job creation. The health of the labor market could determine whether he will win re-election next year.
Obama will lay out a new jobs plan in a speech to the nation on Thursday, and White House advisers said the data underscored a need for action.
“He will be very specific about what we can do that can have a meaningful impact on job growth in the economy right away,” Gene Sperling, a top economic adviser to Obama, told Reuters Insider.
Obama on Friday withdrew new rules to limit smog pollution that businesses had argued would kill jobs and cost them billions of dollars.