The consensus of economists had been that the unemployment rate would tick up 0.1 percentage point but it remained steady. The current 14-month string of months with at least 9.5 percent unemployment is the longest since the U.S. Labor Department began keeping monthly figures in 1948.
Also, a Bloomberg News survey of more than 80 economists suggests there is little light ahead. Their consensus is that that the U.S. unemployment rate will average at least 9 percent through all of next year.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said private-sector hiring "continued to trend up modestly" and added 64,000 jobs. However, there was a loss in August of 159,000 positions, resulting in the drop of 95,000.
The bureau said there are 14.8 million people unemployed in the United States, a figure virtually unchanged from August. About 1.2 million people are considered "discouraged" and not looking for work because they believe there are no jobs available.
Most of the private-sector jobs added were in the healthcare field, which was up 21,000. Government employment fell mainly because another 77,000 temporary U.S. Census Bureau positions came to an end.
President Obama put a positive spin on the numbers, saying the 64,000 private sector jobs added last month brings to 850,000 the number of jobs gained this year, "in sharp contrast to the almost 800,000 jobs that we were losing when I first took office."
Obama made his remarks in Bladensburg, Md., where he was touring Ernest Maier Block, a masonry manufacturer in the Washington area.