The economy added just 80,000 jobs in June while the unemployment rate held steady at 8.2 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday, a further sign that the economic recovery has begun to lose some of its momentum from earlier in the year.
Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected a gain of 90,000 jobs. The news will likely provide campaign fodder for Mitt Romney as he runs against President Obama and his handling of the economy. Only four monthly employment reports are left before Election Day.
The poor showing also provided further evidence that the more encouraging reports earlier in the year were driven by a mild winter. The economy added an average of 75,000 monthly jobs during the second quarter of the year compared to a monthly average of 226,000 during the first quarter.
"At least part of the recent slowdown in jobs growth is probably due to the temporary factors of the unusually warm winter weather, which pulled some hiring forward from the spring, and the rise in gasoline prices, which made firms less keen to add to their costs," the experts at Capital Economics wrote in a Thursday note.