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Date published: 9/8/2012
AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON--U.S. employers added 96,000 jobs last month, a weak figure that could slow the momentum President Barack Obama hoped to gain from his speech Thursday night to the Democratic National Convention.
The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent in July. But that was only because more people gave up looking for jobs. People who are out of work are counted as unemployed only if they're looking for a job.
The government also said Friday that 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 start of the year, below 2011's average of 153,000.
Cash-short governments were a key reason the job market was weaker in June and July than first estimated. Federal, state and local governments cut 39,000 jobs in those months--above the earlier estimate of 18,000. In previous recoveries, governments have typically added jobs, not shed them.
Friday's report was discouraging throughout. Hourly pay fell, manufacturers cut the most jobs in two years and the number of people in the workforce dropped to its lowest level in 31 years.
Stocks showed small gains despite the discouraging news. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14.64 points to close at 13,306.64. The Standard & Poor's 500 was up 5.80 points to 1,437.92. The Nasdaq composite barely moved, up 0.61 points at 3,136.42.
The report provided fodder for both presidential candidates. Soon after the report was issued, Republican nominee Mitt Romney pointed to 43 straight months in which unemployment has now exceeded 8 percent.
At the same time, August marked the 30th straight month of private-sector job gains. Alan Krueger, the White House's top economist, noted that 4.6 million private sector jobs have been created in that time.