Ironically, nearly 17,000 of the added jobs were also temporary, as employers continue to hedge their bets.
Among those 17,000 was Patricia Ward, an unemployed office manager who found work last month through a temporary staffing agency.
"There aren't enough jobs for the people who need them," said Ward, of Abington Township.
Ward is part of a wave of 700 new hires who will be working at the Corporate Call Center Inc. in Blue Bell answering questions about Medicare during the fourth quarter.
The workers received training to qualify for an insurance-selling license, said company president Frank Pettinato. Those who passed the test were reimbursed for their training. Pettinato said he expects that most of the jobs will end in December, but at least the employees will have a license they can use elsewhere.
The slight increase in the unemployment rate from 9.5 percent to 9.6 percent is actually good news because it reflects increased worker confidence in the job market. About 550,000 who had been sitting on the sidelines decided to look for work.
Most economists believe that the nation's businesses must create 120,000 to 150,000 jobs a month simply to accommodate the natural growth of the labor force due to increases in population and immigration.
Although payrolls have increased by 723,000 jobs since December, it would take years of sustained job growth, at 300,000 to 400,000 jobs a month, to begin to recapture the 8.4 million lost during the recession, which began in December 2007.
"Economic growth remains fragile," said Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics.
President Obama made the same point in his remarks Friday morning in the Rose Garden as he urged Congress to pass a bill he said would help small businesses create jobs.
"There's no quick fix to the worst recession we've experienced since the Great Depression," he said.
"The hard truth is that it took years to create our current economic problems, and it will take more time than any of us would like to repair the damage," he said. "Millions of our neighbors are living with that painfully every day."
Although the average duration of unemployment fell slightly to 33.6 weeks, there were 14.9 million unemployed workers in August, up from 14.6 million in July, the Labor Department said.
A recent survey by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University underscores the devastating impact of the nation's prolonged unemployment.
Nearly 3 in 4 Americans have been directly affected by the downturn. Of them, 14 percent lost a full or part-time job and 12 percent more saw an immediate family member lose a job. And 30 percent more had a member of their extended family lose work, while an additional 17 percent knew a close friend who was laid off.
"After suffering through the worst economic disaster most have ever experienced, American workers have diminished expectations about America's economic future," said Carl Van Horn, one of the authors of the study and a Rutgers public policy professor.
Even though some believe that Americans would rather collect benefits than work, most don't hold that view, according to the survey.
"With so many families being directly affected, we find Americans have great sympathy and empathy for the plight of the unemployed," said Van Horn's coauthor and fellow professor, Cliff Zukin.
Particularly hard hit were African American men. Their unemployment rate stands at 17.3 percent, up from 16.7 percent, nearly double the 8.9 percent unemployment rate for white men. Women of both races fared better - 7.1 percent unemployment for whites, 13.2 percent unemployment for African Americans.
The unemployment rate for Hispanic workers is 12 percent, but that is not broken down by sex.
Today's report showed a nearly stagnant employment situation. Wages barely moved, with average hourly earnings rising by just 6 cents to $22.66 an hour. Six was the magic number for hours worked as the average work week grew by 6 minutes.
The number of people forced to work part time because those were the only jobs available or because businesses cut back on hours grew by 331,000.
Construction added 19,000 jobs, but still remains at historically low levels for August. Business and professional services rose, as did education and health services, along with leisure and hospitality. But there were declines in manufacturing, retailing, information, and financial activities.
Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article contains information from the Associated Press.