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The overall economy grew at an annual rate of 0.9 percent in the first six months of the year. That was the weakest growth since the recession ended in June 2009.

High unemployment and steep gasoline prices forced many consumers to cut back on spending this spring. Without more jobs or higher pay increases, they are likely to keep spending cautiously.

In September, the economy generated 103,000 net jobs. That’s enough to calm recession fears, but it is far from what is needed to lower the unemployment rate, which stayed at 9.1 percent for the third straight month.

Employers have added an average of only 72,000 jobs in the past five months. That’s far below the 125,000 per month needed to keep up with population growth. And it’s down from an average of 180,000 in the first four months of this year.