*NEW YORK (CNNMoney) – The labor market lost momentum last month as job growth fell to a disappointingly slow pace. The unemployment rate fell, but that was largely due to people who stopped looking for jobs. *
The economy added 96,000 jobs in August, down from 141,000 jobs in July, the Department of Labor said Friday.
*Economists polled by CNNMoney were expecting 120,000 jobs to be added in the month. *
*Meanwhile, the unemployment ratefell to 8.1%, from 8.3% in July. *
*The drop in unemployment was caused because 368,000 people stopped looking for work and therefore were no longer counted in the survey. *
*“These numbers are not very strong,” said Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank. “The job market is improving, but only gradually.” *
*Economists often say at least 150,000 jobs need to be created each month to simply keep pace with the growing population. *
*The overall job market still has a long way to go recover from the financial crisis. Three years after the recession ended, roughly 12.5 million Americans remain unemployed, and 40% of them have been so for six months or more. *
Not surprisingly, they also adjusted previous months claims downward.