BC-ECONOMY-JOBS:TBW — national, business (500 words)
Unemployment drops to 5-year low, but job growth disappoints
WASHINGTON — The nation’s unemployment rate dropped to a five-year low of 7.2 percent in September, the government reported Tuesday, but employers continued to show reluctance in hiring as they added a moderate 148,000 jobs over the month.
The Labor Department report, delayed 2 1/2 weeks because of the partial federal government shutdown, reflected an economy growing at a lackluster rate. The latest job gains matched the pace since the start of summer but came in below Wall Street’s forecast for an increase of about 175,000 jobs.
The disappointing growth is likely to reinforce the hesitance of Federal Reserve officials to begin a withdrawal of its monetary stimulus program. Fed policymakers are weighing a cutback in its $85-billion-a-month purchase of bonds, but officials have been waiting for stronger employment growth.
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