September's closely watched jobs report revealed further cracks in the economy, with just 136,000 jobs added last month, missing economist expectations of 145,000 for the month.
The unemployment rate hit a new low of 3.5 percent, and the annual wage growth fell to 2.9 percent, according to the government's monthly labor market snapshot.
The disappointing data, released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, comes at the end of a turbulent week on Wall Street. All three major indices saw heavy declines, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing more than 1,100 points this week, after a key gauge of factory activity released Tuesday revealed the biggest slowdown in manufacturing output in a decade.
This, combined with weak hiring in the private sector and a softening in the services industry not seen since 2016, has put investors on edge around the globe.
While President Donald Trump blamed the Democrats for the market sell-off, tweeting that "impeachment nonsense" was driving down "the Stock Market, and your 401K’s," economists point to the monthslong trade war with China as the principal reason for a contracting economy.
"This second miss in the jobs report tells us that a lack of confidence in the economy’s longer-term health is making business owners pessimistic about what’s coming down the pike," said Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group. "Given the Fed’s two rate cuts this year, the looming pressure from tariffs, increasing market volatility and a meager international economic landscape, their anxieties are understandable."
While Friday's data included upward revisions for August and July, the monthly average is still well below last year's pace of 223,000 jobs added per month, but remains within the parameters required to keep pace with the working-age population.
The September jobs data all but ensures a third straight rate cut from the Federal Reserve when it next meets, on October 29-30, to discuss monetary policy.