U.S. employers added just 148,000 jobs in September, suggesting the job market was weakening before a 16-day partial government shutdown.
Still, the September gain was enough to lower the unemployment rate, which comes from a separate survey. The Labor Department says the rate fell to 7.2 percent, from 7.3 percent in August and a five-year low.
The economy has added an average of 143,000 jobs a month from July through September, down from 182,000 from April through June.
Revisions to the previous two months were mixed. Employers added 193,000 jobs in August, better than the initial estimate of 169,000. But they added just 89,000 in July, the fewest in more than a year and below the previously reported 104,000.
The report was delayed 2 1/2 weeks because of the shutdown.