On Friday, the US Labor Department will issue the final monthly jobs report before the midterm congressional elections. The report is expected to indicate that companies likely added a small number of jobs last month, but hardly enough to bring much relief to the nation's 15 million unemployed. Results from the report are expected to leave US President Barack Obama in a precarious position: Democratic members of Congress will face voters with unemployment likely above 9.5 percent.
Economists estimate private employers added a net total of 75,000 jobs in September. But they expect that number to be offset by the loss of an equal number of temporary Census jobs. Overall, economists expect no change in the nation's total payrolls.
The unemployment rate is projected to rise to 9.7 percent from 9.6 percent, according to a survey of economists by Thomson Reuters, as more people look for work. People who are out of work aren't counted as unemployed until they actively look for a job.
Economists see few signs that the jobs situation will improve anytime soon.
"There's not much growth going on in the economy right now, so that doesn't give employers much reason for hiring," said Nigel Gault, an economist at IHS Global Insight.
Gault said he expects the pace of job creation to remain similarly weak for the rest of this year. Some economists say the unemployment rate could top 10 percent by next year.