WASHINGTON (AP) - A wave of government layoffs in September outpaced weak hiring in the private sector, pushing down U.S.payrolls by a net total of 95,000 jobs.

The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate heldat 9.6 percent last month. The jobless rate has now topped 9.5percent for 14 straight months, the longest stretch since the1930s.

The private sector added 64,000 jobs, the weakest showing sinceJune.

Local governments cut 76,000 jobs last month, most of them ineducation. That is the largest cut by local governments in 28 years.And, 77,000 temporary census jobs ended in September.

Nearly 14.8 million people were unemployed last month. That isalmost 100,000 fewer than in August.

The report is the final one before the November elections, whichmeans members of Congress will face voters next month with ajobless rate near double digits.

The weak job market also makes it more likely that the FederalReserve will take additional steps to boost the economy. Mosteconomists expect the Fed to decide at its meeting next month tobuy government debt in an effort to lower interest rates and spurmore borrowing.

Employers, faced with slow sales and a weak economy, see littlereason to add to their workforces. The economy expanded at a feeble1.7 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter. Most analyststhink the economy will fare little better for the rest of thisyear.

Since the recession ended in June 2009, the economy has grown 3percent, according to economists at Deutsche Bank. That's less thanhalf the average 6.5 percent pace in postwar recoveries.