The unemployment rate dropped in August from 8.3% to 8.1%. Good news? Not hardly. The reason for the drop was that more people stopped looking for work. And the economy could only manage to create 96,000 jobs -- far below what is necessary to employ all the new workers who enter the work force every month.
In a word - pathetic.
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, 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 beginning of the year, below 2011's average of 153,000.
Dow Jones industrial futures, which had been up before the report, fell soon after it was released.
The hiring figures and unemployment rate will be among the most politically consequential of the campaign. They 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.
The lowest labor participation rate - 63.5% - in more than 30 years. Falling wages, stagnant work week. Even temp jobs fell -- not because full time jobs became available but because companies don't need workers of any kind.
Say it with me -- "Four more years..."