The U.S. economy created 142,000 jobs in September, well below economists' expectations of 203,000.
In August, employers added 173,000 jobs.
The new number could cool expectations that the Federal Reserve will start raising interest rates soon.
"Disappointing across the board," said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network, NBC News reported. "This is not what the markets were looking for, this is not what pretty much anybody expected."
U.S. stocks turned lower after the news with the Dow down more than 180 points in early trading.
Unemployment remained at 5.1 percent for September, the Labor Department said. The rate has been falling steadily due in large part to the lowest labor force participation rate since the late 1970s, according to NBC News.