U.S. employers added 96,000 jobs last month, a weak figure that could slow any momentum President Barack Obama hoped to gain from his speech to the Democratic National Convention.
cent from 8.3 percent in July, the Labor Department said Friday. But that was only because more people gave up looking for work. The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively searching.
The government also said 41,000 fewer jobs were created in July and June than first estimated. The economy has added just 139,000 jobs a month since
The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 perthe beginning of the year, below 2011’s average of 153,000.
For-hire trucking picked up 1,400 jobs for the month, and has added jobs every month this year except for March. The preliminary August number for trucking is better than the same month a year ago by 49,000 jobs, and it’s 117,000 jobs better than March 2010, the low point in the downturn. But the current total is still 103,100 jobs shy of the industry peak in early 2007 — a slip of 7.1 percent.
Dow Jones industrial futures, which had been up before the report, fell soon after it was released.
The report was weak throughout. Hourly pay fell, manufacturers cut the most jobs in two years and the number of people in the work force dropped to its lowest level in 31 years.
Sluggish hiring could nudge the Federal Reserve to announce some new action to boost growth after its meeting next week.
The report on hiring and unemployment is among the most politically consequential of the campaign. The figures arrive just as the presidential race enters its final stretch. Jobs are the core issue, and the report could sway some undecided voters.
There will be two additional employment reports before Election Day Nov. 6. But by then, more Americans will have made up their minds.
In his speech Thursday night, Obama acknowledged incomplete progress in repairing the still-struggling economy and asked voters to remain patient.
“The truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over the decades,” Obama said.
In addition to those who’ve given up looking for work, many young Americans are avoiding the job market by remaining in school. All told, the proportion of the population that is either working or looking for work fell to 63.5 percent. That’s the lowest level in 31 years for the labor force participation rate.
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