The economy generated a miniscule 54,000 jobs in May, only one quarter of the previous month, while the unemployment rate rose to 9.1%, the Labor Department said on June 3.
Job creation in the private sector, expected to drive the economy as governments slash spending, was a measly 83,000, one-third of the pace of the previous three months.
Figures for employment increases in the previous two months were also revised downward, another sign that the economy is growing only weakly.
While the country generated a large number of jobs in the mining sector in May -- driven by jumps in oil and mineral prices -- the manufacturing sector, which had expanded solidly in the first part of the year, lost 5,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, the public sector at all levels, from federal to local, cut 29,000 jobs.
While some economists had forecast that tornado and flood disasters in the south and midwest would push employment figures down, Labor Statistics Bureau commissioner Keith Hall said those were not an important factor.
"While there is no question that some workers in the devastated communities may have been at least temporarily displaced from their jobs, we found no clear impact of the disasters on the national employment and unemployment data for May," Hall said.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011
U.S. Economic Growth Pared to 1.8%