The number of people in work in the United States fell for the third straight month in August, but the decline of 54,000 was far less than expected.
And private employment, which is considered a better gauge of the health of the labour market increased by 67,000.
The unemployment rate edged up last month to 9.6 percent of the working population, from 9.5 percent in June and July.
But that too was good news as the rise in the jobless rate reflected an increase in the labour force as some previously discouraged workers resumed the hunt for jobs.
In addition, the government revised payrolls for June and July to show 123,000 fewer jobs had been lost than previously reported.
President Barack Obama called it positive news, but said the government must do more: “One thing we also have to do right now, one thing we have the responsibility to do right now is to lift up our small businesses, which accounted for over 60 percent of job losses in the final months of last year. That’s why, once again, I’m calling on Congress to make passing a small business jobs bill its first order of business when it gets back into session later this month.”
Obama – who is under pressure over his handling of the economy – said he would address a broader package of ideas to help spur growth next week.
With companies not hiring and Americans fearful of losing their jobs, consumer spending has taken a hit. It normally accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.
Concerns about a double-dip recession in the US did diminish somewhat recently as data showed strength in manufacturing and some gains in consumer spending and the latest jobs figures will further reduce the need for the US central bank – the Federal Reserve – to do more to stimulate the economy.