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The U.S. economy added 96,000 jobs during the month of August – well below what analysts were predicting and far short of July’s 163,000 number (which itself was revised downward to 141,000).  In order for employment to keep up with population growth, at least 130,000 jobs need to be added each month – a mark that our economy has hit just twice in the last six months.

The national unemployment rate fell from 8.3 to 8.1 percent, though, due to the fact that the nation’s labor force continues to shrink even as its population expands.  America’s labor participation rate is now all the way down to 63.5 percent – compared to 65.7 percent when U.S. President Barack Obama took office in January 2009.  That’s a thirty-year low, people.

What does that mean?  Simple: In addition to the 12.5 million people who are unemployed and looking for work – millions of additional Americans have given up their search for gainful employment.  Last month alone nearly 370,000 Americans gave up looking for a job.

Not surprisingly, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney pounced on the numbers.

“It’s another disappointing monthly figure,” Romney told Fox News. “If you look over the last several quarters, last several years, you see the continued pattern which is that we are not creating the jobs we need to create to put Americans back to work. For every net new job created, about four people dropped out of the workforce. So we’re going in the wrong direction.”

Romney added that “there is nothing that (Obama) has really done in the last three-and-a-half, four years that gives confidence he knows what he is doing with regards to jobs and the economy anyway.”

That’s true …

In South Carolina, the unemployment rate for the month of July was 9.6 percent – up from 8.9 percent just three months earlier.  New numbers for the Palmetto State will be available later this month.