The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 7.2% in September from 7.3% a month earlier and employers added 148,000 jobs, short of the 180,000 expected, the Department of Labor reported Tuesday.
The data, usually released on the first Friday of the month, was delayed by the government shutdown. The jobs report for October will be released on Friday, Nov. 8, one week later than scheduled.
It will take several weeks, possibly months, before analysts can fully assess the economic impact of the 16-day government shutdown, but most economists think the temporary closure of operations and furloughs of an estimated 800,000 employees will shave a half percentage point from economic growth in the fourth quarter.
August numbers were revised upward, suggesting the economy enjoyed rising momentum before an acrimonious budget fight in Washington took some of the wind out of its sails.
Officials at the Federal Reserve are likely to hold off any decision on scaling back the U.S. central bank's bond buying until the extent of the economic damage from the budget fight is clearer.
The pattern of employment gains in September was mixed last month, with government payrolls increasing 22,000 jobs after rising 32,000 in August.??
The leisure and hospitality industry shed the most jobs since December 2009. There was a small bounce in information sector payrolls, which dropped in August as the motion picture industry shed workers.
??Construction payrolls increased 20,000, which could ease fears of a leveling off in home building.??
Manufacturing sector added only 2,000 jobs, while retail employment increased 20,800.??Other details of the employment report were mildly encouraging, with average hourly earnings increased three cents in September. The length of the average workweek held steady at 34.5 hours.