US firms created only 80,000 new jobs in June, leaving the jobless rate unchanged at 8.2%.
The data sent US shares falling with the Dow Jones index closing almost 1% lower.
President Barack Obama, campaigning in the run-up to the presidential election in November, said the rise in employment was a step in the right direction but the pace of job creation needs to pick up.
Speaking at a rally in the swing state of Ohio, President Obama acknowledged that "it's still tough out there" for ordinary Americans.
Republican White House candidate Mitt Romney said the jobs data underlined the need for a new president, adding "this kick in the gut has got to end".
Job creation remains below the 100,000 judged necessary by the Federal Reserve for a stable job market, according to the US Labor Department.
There was some more positive news as May's figure of 69,000 new jobs was revised upwards to 77,000, the BBC reports.
Most of the US jobs growth was in professional and business services, with the Labor Department saying that employment in other major industries was little changed over the month.