Hiring slowed last month as employers added 173,000 jobs, according to the Department of Commerce, perhaps just a bit ahead of the number needed to keep pace with population growth.
The slackening growth now makes it unclear whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates as it had been expected to do in September.
Nevertheless, the unemployment rate declined to the lowest rate since 2008, dropping two tenths of a point to 5.1 percent.
Economists had expected an increase of about 220,000 jobs, which had been about the average for the year.
The labor force participation rate remained at historic lows, with only 62.6 percent of Americans working or looking for work.
“The labor force participation rate remained stable,” said White House Council of Economic Advisors Chairman Jason Furman, as if that were a good thing.