The U.S. economy will likely show its fifth straight month of slight or no job creation when the government issues its September employment report Friday.
Another weak month would underscore the sluggishness of the economy and the risk of another recession.
Economists surveyed by FactSet predict that employers added just 56,000 net jobs in September. That isn't enough to keep pace with population growth or lower the unemployment rate, which is expected to remain at 9.1 percent for a third straight month.
In the first four months of this year, employers added an average of 180,000 jobs a month. But in the four months since, job gains have averaged just 40,000. And in August, employers didn't add any jobs - the worst showing since September 2010.
The faltering economy has led many employers to reduce hiring.