The U.S. economy added just 194,000 jobs in September, the Department of Labor reported Friday, a disappointing month that reflects how severely the delta variant is hampering the economic recovery.

The unemployment rate dropped to 4.8 percent from 5.2 percent in August, although that was mostly from people leaving the labor force.

During more optimistic days, September was supposed to be a big month for the labor market, with widespread coronavirus vaccinations, falling caseloads and the return of normal functions like in-person schooling allowing the economy to rev back up. The country is still about 5 million jobs below where it was before the pandemic, and needs to gain back an even bigger number to stage a full recovery.

But the period leading up to the week the survey was taken, the week ending Sept. 12, was marked by a series of crises…

Weekly unemployment claims rose for three straight weeks, before falling last week. And restaurant reservations, which had begun returning to pre-pandemic levels according to data from Open Table, took a dive.

The modest gains for the month were driven by the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 74,000 jobs, particularly in arts, entertainment and recreation after hiring remained flat in restaurants and bars.

Professional and business services, like architectural and engineering services, technical consulting services and computer systems designs was up 60,000 for the month. Retail added 56,000 jobs, particularly in clothing and merchandise stores, and building and garden supply outposts….