WASHINGTON (AP) -- 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.
The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent in July, but only because more people gave up looking for work. The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively searching.
The Labor Department also says 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 beginning of the year, below 2011's average of 153,000.
The bleak report comes just two months before Election Day, and the economy is the top issue on most voters' minds.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released the following statement on the August employment report:
"The unemployment rate is falling as we saw the thirtieth straight month of private sector job growth, with the economy adding nearly one hundred thousand new jobs. While our recovery is still moving too slowly for many Americans, job growth would likely have been even stronger if Republicans had not blocked Democratic efforts to hire more teachers, firefighters and police officers.
"At the end of the day, too many people in Nevada and across America are still struggling to get by. The best way to speed up our recovery is for Republicans to stop their knee-jerk obstruction of every effort Democrats put forward, and start working across the aisle to find common ground. Next week, the Senate will vote to give employers incentives to hire veterans, so our heroes are not left out in the cold when they return home. This is a common-sense jobs bill, and I hope Republicans will join Democrats in supporting it.
"The Republican leader said his single most important goal was defeating President Obama. To speed up our recovery, it's time for Republicans to put politics aside, and join Democrats to make the middle class their top priority."
U.S. Senator Dean Heller issued the following statement regarding the national unemployment figures:
"As I travel across Nevada, the message is clear: Nevadans want jobs and solutions that will ignite this anemic economy. The policies coming out of Washington are not producing results; in fact, just this week our national debt surpassed $16 trillion for the first time in our country's history. We can no longer afford this massive spending and big government mentality that has led to minimal job growth and more Americans leaving the workforce. In order to encourage greater economic vitality, Congress needs to concentrate on reforming the tax code, reigning in burdensome regulations, and helping families stay in their homes. No state has been impacted more by the failed policies coming out of Washington than the Great State of Nevada, which is why jobs, the economy, and getting Nevadans back to work continue to be my top priorities," said Senator Dean Heller.
Congresswoman Shelley Berkley released the following statement in reaction:
"While it is encouraging that the unemployment rate dropped in August, far too many in Nevada continue to be out of work. That is why our top priority must be creating good-paying middle-class jobs that can't be sent to China and India. Nevada can become the clean energy jobs capital of the country, Nevada small businesses can have the tools to begin hiring again and we can create good-paying jobs here at home, but only if Washington Republicans like Senator Dean Heller, Paul Ryan, and Mitt Romney begin looking out for the middle-class, not just the wealthy few, big oil companies, and other Wall Street special interests."