The economy generated a paltry 18,000 jobs, the Labor Department said on July 8, in a strong sign of stalling growth in the world's largest economy.
The fall in new jobs pushed the overall unemployment rate up to 9.2%.
The private sector, expected to power up the economic recovery, added just 57,000 positions -- compared to 241,000 in April.
Offsetting that was a loss of 39,000 government jobs as authorities in federal, state and local administrations slash payrolls to address budget deficits.
The department also revised downward by more than half its already-disappointing data for May -- only a net 25,000 jobs were generated.
Added together, the two months paint a picture of both extremely slow growth in the economy and reticence of businesses, many of which have been piling up cash reserves, to expand their workforces. Nearly all of the new jobs came from the service sector -- and those predominantly in health care -- despite hopes of a revival in manufacturing.
In an additional sign of the challenges to growth, the average workweek declined and average hourly earnings declined in the month. Though the drops in both were slight, taken against rising prices it suggested U.S. consumers' buying power fell in the month.
"These weak jobs data indicate the economic recovery remains in low gear, and policies other than big deficits and printing money are needed to get Americans back to work," said Peter Morici, professor, University of Maryland.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011