The US economy added 120,000 jobs during March, lower than estimates suggested, while the unemployment rate fell slightly to 8.2%.
Analysts had predicted a fourth straight month with job growth of more than 200,000.
President Barack Obama's electoral prospects are widely seen as linked to the economy and the jobs market.
Employment has been rising for the past six months, but the jobless rate has been stuck above 8% since early 2009.
The Department of Labor's data shows the smallest growth in employment since October 2011.
'Weak and troubling'
Manufacturing, the food and beverage industry and healthcare showed gains in March, but retail was down.
Analysts say the slow-down in March hiring comes as the US emerges from an unseasonably mild winter that spurred job numbers.
Many experts had expected that the unemployment rate would hold at 8.3%.
But joblessness dropped by one-tenth of a percent as the number of people actively looking for work went down.
The participation rate, which measures the proportion of the working-age population making up the labour force, ticked down slightly to 63.8% in March from 63.9% the month before.
If there is manipulation in numbers you will see it here. The market should take a big backstep at this. This effectively wipes out all of the first quarters "good" numbers. Now we can watch and see if the recession in Europe and the slowdown in China is reported here. This also ties everything to bad economics. It clearly shows that government intervention in the form of stimulus has carried the market and when it goes away the market tanks.
Here is the big question. Which economy will the public pick this November. One that is on life support and will die when the stimulus is removed or the one that should have tanked worse two years ago, with bank and auto bankrupties and would now be recovering?
This is a blog I did not post in April. Just a reminder, nothing has changed, regardless of what Obama says.