jobsThe economy added 96,000 jobs in August – enough to lower the unemployment rate to 8.1 percent, but not enough to meet most economists’ predictions of 125,000 new jobs.

Today’s Labor Department jobs report is the last one before the November election and comes on the heels of the Democratic National Convention, which ended last night with a speech by President Barack Obama that addressed the nation’s economic problems.

Responding to Republican criticism about the high unemployment rate, Obama said; “it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades.”

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), a Democrat who serves on the House Budget Committee says the job growth is “a whole lot better than losing 800,000 jobs every month, which is what the president inherited.”

First-time unemployment benefits fell by 12,000 last week and the service sector expanded last month, with hiring increasing at a faster clip. 

Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney blames Obama’s policies for the economic stagnation, and says his business experience will enable him to stimulate business growth and add jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the economy is adding 139,000 jobs per month so far in 2012, compared with 153,000 per month in 2011.

Labor also revised its July jobs figure to 141,000 down to from its initial figure of 163,000 jobs.