The unemployment in July remained at 8.3 percent.
If the Fed takes any action next month, many economists say it is likely to extend its plan to keep interest rates near zero through late 2014.
The Fed may move the guidance to late 2015.
A previous analysis by Fed economists suggests that such an action would bring unemployment to about 7.8 percent by the end of the year and 7.2 percent by the end of next year, only slightly lower than it otherwise is projected to be.
A more aggressive action would involve launching a new round of bond purchases, most likely involving Treasury bonds and mortgage bonds. This would flood money into the economy and housing market, pushing record-low interest rates even lower.
Independent economists have estimated that a new round of bond purchases might reduce the unemployment rate by 0.2 percentage points over the course of a year.
Bernanke has said several times lately that Fed policies are no “panacea” for the economy. Still, some Democrats have urged him to do more and complained when the Fed stood pat at its midsummer meeting.
The “Fed should not be deterred from doing what’s needed to reduce unemployment,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement at the time.
Republicans, however, are opposed to new action, saying it risks inflation. Senate Banking Committee member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) lashed out Tuesday at Bernanke in the pages of the Financial Times, saying the Fed shouldn’t provide any more stimulus.
“It would be helpful to have a Fed chairman who acted with a greater sense of humility about what monetary policy can achieve,” Corker wrote.
Bernanke himself says the country’s main economic decisions are Congress’s to make. He also wants to make sure the Fed doesn’t act in a way that sparks inflation, which can erode incomes.
At Jackson Hole this weekend, however, the absence of another top central banker underscores one of the most immediate threats to the recovery.
At the last moment, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi scuttled a speech at the conference so he could stay at home and tend to the continent’s highly volatile financial crisis.