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Transition 2012

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Economy Update: Swing State Jobless Rates Down

by Newsteam Staff
July 26, 2012

A worker at the American Museum of Natural History cleans a 94-foot blue whale model at the museum in New York September 7, 2011 (Eric Thayer/Courtesy Reuters). A worker at the American Museum of Natural History cleans a 94-foot blue whale model at the museum in New York September 7, 2011 (Eric Thayer/Courtesy Reuters).


While the U.S. economy continues to struggle, unemployment numbers are looking better in many swing states, which could an important impact on how things pan out for candidates when voters head to the polls in November, say some analysts.

In seven of the twelve states the Washington Post considers important swing states — Iowa, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin — the June unemployment rate report came in lower the monthly national average of 8.2 percent. In some states, considerably lower, with New Hampshire, Iowa, and Virginia all below 6 percent unemployment for June. Even Ohio, considered one of the states hardest hit by the collapse of the manufacturing sector, the unemployment rate is a full percentage point below the U.S. average, the Post reports.

The Post‘s Chris Cilizza notes that if voters based their votes solely on unemployment numbers it would give President Barack Obama an electoral lead over GOP rival Mitt Romney but also notes that doing the electoral math that way is “a too-blunt measure.” However, he says the exercise serves as a reminder that individual states matter more than the national consensus and with this year’s voters focused almost solely on the economy, state-by-state unemployment numbers matter.

The Business Insider also reports that June’s swing state jobs numbers could be a important indicator of where Obama stands in the race and finds “a mixed bag” out of ten states identified, with month-to-month unemployment numbers for six creeping up slightly but significant year-to-year drops in another five.

Notably, seven of the states have Republican governors. “These successful Republican governors are theoretically great surrogates for the Romney campaign. All have strong numbers to support their claims that their patented GOP way of doing things works. But the economic improvement in their states could have a positive ripple effect for Obama instead of Romney,” says Elizabeth Harfield at ABC.

Republican governors of states gaining economic ground are finding themselves in a tight spot, faced with the task of making sure that the Republican Party and its national candidate are credited with the economic success of individual states.

For more on the candidates’ stances, check this issue tracker on The Candidates and the Economy.

Suggested Other Reading:

At Fortune, Nina Easton says the U.S. unemployment system, with its hefty taxes for employers, is hurting employers and stifling job growth.

At CNN, the Brookings Institution’s Neil G. Ruiz and Shyamali Choudhury say that the lack of a highly-skilled domestic work force, even in a time of high unemployment, is forcing U.S. employers to turn to an international pool of workers to find the specialized skills they need, hurting U.S. global economic competitiveness as well as domestic recovery.

— Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor

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