The market had been anticipating non-farm payrolls to increase by 18,000 in August, but the actual number was significantly lower -- a decline of 93,000 jobs. If that weren't enough, July's payrolls were also revised lower -- to a loss of 49,000 jobs from a previous estimate of 44,000 job losses.
As for specific industries, job losses continued in the manufacturing and information sectors, while health care and construction added jobs. Factory jobs were hit especially hard, declining by 44,000 during the month.
Overall, this put the August unemployment rate at 6.1%, down slightly from last month's 6.2%. But don't confuse this with an actual improvement in jobs. The number of unemployed persons (8.9 million) was essentially unchanged in August vs. July.
In addition, today's report included 1.7 million persons who were out of work but not counted as officially unemployed because they didn't look for a job during the four weeks preceding the August survey. This group, which includes a number of "discouraged workers" (so-called because they've simply given up on the job search), increased by 209,000 over the past year.
Also, in case you're wondering about the effect of the recent blackout across the Northeast and Midwest, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said it likely had little effect on the August employment counts because of the way employment is defined in the surveys.
All in all, the August employment report provided further confirmation that whatever recovery currently under way is a "jobless recovery" at best.