The U.S. economy added only 96,000 jobs in August, below July's gain. Yet the unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent, the steepest drop since January.

Why did the rate fall so much when the economy gained only a small number of jobs?

Because the government does one survey to learn how many jobs were created and another survey to determine the unemployment rate. Those surveys can produce results that sometimes seem to conflict.

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