The U.S. economy created 160,000 jobs in April, lower than economist expectations while the unemployment rate held steady at 5 percent.
On the bright side, wages rose during the month, with average hourly earnings up 8 cents an hour, representing a 2.5 percent annualized gain. The average work week edged higher to 34.5 hours.
Stock futures briefly fell after the report but regained some ground as Wall Street prepared for a lower open.
A separate measure of unemployment that includes those working part-time for economic reasons as well as discouraged workers fell one-tenth of a point to 9.7 percent. The labor force paricipation rate, which had been on the rise in recent months, fell to 62.8 percent, its lowest level since January.
Wall Street had expected the nonfarm payrolls report to show growth of 202,000 and the jobless rate to remain unchanged at 5 percent.
The report comes at a tenuous time for the U.S. economy, which grew just 0.5 percent in the first quarter is on pace for just a 1.7 percent rise in the second quarter, according to the Atlanta Fed.
Recent indications show little underlying momentum. A report earlier this week from ADP and Moody’s Analytics had projected private job creation at just 156,000. Retail sales have been mostly weak, productivity has remained low and concerns remain over the muted pace of wage growth.
As a result, the Fed has been kept on hold as it seeks to normalize interest rates after more than seven years near zero. Traders are currently giving just a slight chance of a rate increase in 2016, though the most recent indication from Fed officials is for two hikes.
This story originally appeared on CNBC.com