Employers have addded an average of only 72,000 jobs in the past five months.
House Speaker John Boehner, in a statement released Friday morning, said the American people want to know where the jobs are: "These sad numbers show that more Washington spending, threats of higher taxes on small businesses, and excessive government regulations don’t create a healthy environment for job growth."
According to the Labor Department, the private sector added 137,000 jobs in September, up sharply from August but below July's revised total. Government shed 34,000 jobs.
Job gains occurred in construction, retail, temporary help services and health care. Manufacturing cut jobs for the second straight month.
More Americans are working part time but would prefer full-time work. When added to those out of work who have given up looking, the so-called "underemployment" rate rose to 16.5 percent from 16.2 percent.
Nearly 4.5 million people have been unemployed for more than year. That's equal to about one-third of the total unemployed -- a record.
On Thursday, Obama urged Congress to embrace his jobs bill, which Republicans call a "stimulus" bill.
Speaker Boehner noted that the employment rate is far above what was promised when Obama's first stimulus bill was signed into law.
“Today’s report underscores the urgency for both parties to find common ground on common-sense solutions to create a better environment for private-sector job creation," Boehner said in his statement. "Republicans have outlined for President Obama possible areas of common ground, and just yesterday we passed a bipartisan measure to stop excessive regulations that threaten thousands of American jobs. Unfortunately, while the House has passed more than a dozen jobs bills this year, most have yet to receive a vote in the Democratic-led Senate."
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, speaking on Fox & Friends Friday morning, said the persistently high unemployment rate is evidence of "a failed economic policy."
"You can learn some lessons from Ronald Reagan and what he did after the recession when he came into office. And he made sure that government was not burdening the enterprise system, he kept taxes low, held down regulation, expanded trade around the world, and in the month of September following the recession he inherited, we actually created over a million jobs," Romney said.
(The Associated Press contributed some of the information used in this report.)