The US economy added a poor 96,000 jobs in August, but the overall jobless rate fell to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent as more people dropped out of the labor market, the Labor Department said Friday.
The number of net new jobs generated by the weak economy was lower than expected, and likely to strengthen the case at the Federal Reserve for more action to boost growth.
While the total number of official jobless fell to 12.5 million from 12.8 million people, the Labor Department's data showed a sharp decline in the size of the labor force and a rise in those not looking for jobs.
Moreover, the duration of unemployment for those looking for jobs -- a key worry of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke -- was little-changed, with around 40 percent still searching for work for more than 27 weeks.
While the 8.1 percent headline unemployment rate looks improved, the details of the data shows that President Barack Obama's efforts to boost jobs around the country is still having little impact on the ground, and will continue to dog his fight to win reelection in November.