The US economy added fewer-than-expected jobs in April even as the unemployment rate declined marginally and the government revised higher payroll figures for March and February.
American employers added 115,000 new jobs in April as hiring lost momentum for the second straight month, the US Labour Department reported on Friday. Economists had forecast a reading of 163,000.
The unemployment rate, meanwhile, dipped to 8.1% from 8.2%, as nearly 350,000 people dropped out of the labor force. The percentage of Americans participating in the labour force fell from 63.8% in March, to 63.6% in April.
The unemployment rate was forecast to hold at 8.2%. Unemployment has exceeded 8% since February 2009, the longest such stretch since monthly records began in 1948.
The increase in employment in March was revised up to 154,000 from an initial reading of 120,000. The gain in February was revised up to 259,000 from 240,000.
The average work week was unchanged at 34.5 hours, while average hourly earnings rose 1 cent to US$23.38.
April's disappointing jobs number - the smallest gain in six months - will add to fears that the economic recovery is faltering in the US as the euro area stares at another recession and growth in China too moderates.
Initial reaction from Wall Street was muted as expectations had reduced in recent days on the back of other disappointing data points.
Private payrolls, which exclude government agencies, rose 130,000 after a revised gain of 166,000. Factory payrolls increased by 16,000, the smallest in five months. Service sector companies added 101,000 new jobs in April, the smallest gain since August.
Construction companies cut 2,000 jobs and retailers added 29,300 employees. Government payrolls decreased by 15,000. State and local governments employment dropped by 11,000.