142,000 jobs created in September, unemployment holds at 5.1%

Updated

The U.S. economy created 142,000 jobs in September, a number that missed expectations and could cool expectations that the Federal Reserve will start raising interest rates soon.

Unemployment held at 5.1%, according to the Labor Department.

Economists had been expecting the report to show 203,000 new jobs, up from the initially reported 173,000 in August.

Fed officials have been keeping a close eye on the jobs number for clues about when it would be appropriate to raise interest rates for the first time in more than nine years. The unemployment rate has been declining steadily, but that has come in significant part due to the lowest labor force participation rate since the late 1970s.

The market is not expecting the Fed to raise this year, even though several officials have said in recent weeks that a hike probably would be appropriate before the end of 2015.

The participation rate plunged to 62.4% in September, its lowest since October 1977. The total labor force fell to a 2015 low.

In addition to the weak headline numbers, wages were flat, indicating little inflationary pressures for the Fed, and the average work week actually fell a fraction to 34.5 hours.

Stock market futures actually were positive despite the weak report. Bond yields fell, with the benchmark 10-year Treasury note dipping below 2%.

The market is not expecting the Fed to raise this year, even though several officials have said in recent weeks that a hike probably would be appropriate before the end of 2015. Expectations for a rate increase fell further after the report was released, with traders pushing the probability out to March 2016.

Health care led the way in job creation with 34,000 new positions. Professional and business services added 31,000 while retail grew by 24,000 and restaurants and bars contributed 21,000. Food services and drinking establishments have added 349,000 jobs over the past year.

Average job growth in 2015 slipped to 198,000 due a lackluster end to summer. In addition to the sharp reduction in the August count, July’s number also was cut from 245,000 to 223,000.

There were some bright spots in the report: The average duration of unemployment fell to 26.3 weeks, its lowest level since August 2009.

This article originally appeared on CNBC.com. This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

Unemployment and Unemployment Rate

142,000 jobs created in September, unemployment holds at 5.1%

Updated