Employers added no jobs in August -- an alarming setback for the economy that renewed fears of another recession and raised pressure on Washington to end the hiring standstill.
Worries flared Friday after the release of the worst jobs report since September 2010. Total payrolls were unchanged, the first time since 1945 that the government reported a net job change of zero. The unemployment rate stayed at 9.1 percent.
The dismal news two day before Labor Day sent stocks plunging. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 253 points, or more than 2 percent.
Analysts say the economy cannot continue to expand unless hiring picks up. In the first six months of 2011, growth was measured at an annual rate of 0.7 percent.