Only 115,000 jobs were added to the economy in April, according to the Labor Department, while the unemployment rate dipped slightly to 8.1 percent.
The slight drop in the unemployment rate is due to the nearly 350,000 unemployed people who gave up looking for work last month and dropped out of the labor force entirely. At least 200,000 jobs would have had to be added last month just to keep up with the growth in the labor market. April's report missed expectations—economists predicted 163,000 jobs would be added.
While the private sector grew modestly, state, local and federal government jobs hit the chopping block: 15,000 public employees were laid off last month.
April's disappointing jobs numbers follow a winter boom, when nearly 250,000 jobs per month were added between December and February. That grace period ended in March, when only 154,000 jobs were added, and many economists attribute the mini-boom to the unseasonably warm winter weather.
On Fox News Friday morning, Mitt Romney called the report "terrible" and "disappointing." Obama has emphasized that economic indicators are improving, albeit slowly, while Romney blames the unemployment crisis on Obama's policies. The Federal Reserve has predicted the unemployment rate will be between 7.8 and 8 percent by Election Day.
Earlier this week the Labor Department reported that jobless claims fell 27,000 to 365,000. That was the steepest weekly drop in a year.
About 12.5 million Americans were unemployed in April, including 5.1 million who have been looking for work for more than 27 weeks. But many more millions of Americans have given up looking for work altogether. The labor force participation rate is at the lowest point since 1981.
More popular Yahoo! News stories: