U.S. employers added a much fewer-than-expected 661,000 new jobs last month, data from the Labor Department confirmed Friday, as hiring slowed sharply from August amid new layoffs and a broader economic slowdown linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 661,000 net new job total compares to an upwardly-revised August tally of 1.489 million but still takes the headline unemployment rate to 7.9%. Average hourly wages, the Bureau of Labor statistics said, rose 0.1% from August to $29.47, taking the year-on-year to to 4.7%. The labor force participation rate, a reading of long-term unemployment, fell to 61.4% from 61.7%, the BLS said, and the overall economy is down 10.7 million jobs from its February peak.

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