The Labor Department reported that the unemployment rate fell from 8.3 percent in July to 8.1 percent in August.
Total jobs added, though, were just 96,000, far short of the 130,000 expected by analysts.
Employment increased in food services and “drinking places,” in professional and technical services, and in healthcare, according to the report.
Both the civilian labor force (154.6 million) and the labor force participation rate (63.5 percent) declined in August.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 5.0 million. These individuals accounted for 40.0 percent of the unemployed.
June and July data were also revised to show 41,000 fewer jobs created than previously reported.