The U.S. economy added a lackluster 142,000 jobs in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday. That's below the 173,000 initially reported for August, though it's above the threshold economists say is necessary to keep up with population growth. Unfortunately, the latest findings also revised the August numbers down to 136,000, and the July numbers down to 223,000 from 245,000.
The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.1 percent. More discouraging was labor force participation (in many ways a more important metric) which dropped from 62.6 to 62.4 percent. Wage growth, meanwhile, is probably the best indicator for whether the economy is employing as many people as it possibly could be, and it's still flat at 2.2 percent.
Job gains averaged 167,000 over the last three months. To close the hole in the economy left by the Great Recession by the summer of 2017, we need to average 246,000 a month.