The economy added 96,000 jobs in August, falling well short of expectations and dealing a blow to President Obama as he heads out Friday on a three-state campaign swing.
The figure is a buzz kill for Democrats after a rousing week at their party convention and shows the labor market is still struggling as the economy goes through another summer slowdown.
The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics.
Economists had expected upward of 150,000 new workers last month.
Other bad news was the downward revision of jobs numbers in June and July — down to 45,000 from 64,000 and to 141,000 from an initially estimated 163,000, respectively.
The service sector was the best performer, adding 28,000 in August and by 298,000 over the past 12 months, but the manufacturing sector showed a loss of 15,000 jobs last month.