The September employment report from the U.S. Labor Department, the last before the Nov. 2 midterm elections, showed a net loss of 95,000 nonfarm jobs during the month. Wall Street was expecting a loss of 10,000. Stocks were mixed early in early trading Friday.

The losses, however, were driven by a decline of 159,000 in government jobs, largely due to the end of temporary jobs associated with the 2010 Census but also due to job losses at the local government level. Private-sector payroll employment ticked up by 64,000, a figure the Labor Department called "modest" but significantly beneath the level needed for recovery in the job market.

The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.6%.

The number of those unemployed for 27 weeks and over remained at 6.1 million but down by 640,000 since a series high of 6.8 million in May. In Septem- ber, 41.7% of unemployed persons had been jobless for 27 weeks or more. Both the civilian labor force participation rate, at 64.7%, and the employment-population ratio, at 58.5%, were unchanged.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (involuntary part-time workers) rose by 612,000 over the month to 9.5 million, bringing the increase durning the past two months to 943,000. Another 2.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, up from 2.2 million a year earlier. Some 1.2 million of them were classified as discouraged workers, up 503,000 from September, 2009. The remaining 1.3 million marginally attached workers had not looked for work in the previous four weeks.

Gains in private-sector employment came, as usual, in health care, which added 24,000 jobs, nearly a third of the total. Employment services (temporary help) added 28,000 jobs. The other major gainer was food services and drinking places, which added 34,000 jobs.

Employment was flat in the key sectors: manufacturing, information technology, finance, transportation and retail. Employment in construction edged down by 21,000, partly offsetting an employment gain in August. Both the August and September changes were concentrated among nonresidential specialty trade contractors. Construction employment has shown little net change since February.

The average workweek for all employees was unchanged at 34.2 hours. Average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 1 cent to $22.67.