Critical pre-election labor report shows broad improvement

Oct. 19, 2012 at 3:24 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Unemployment rates fell in 41 states and Washington, D.C., in September, the Labor Department said Friday in a report laden with election-year implications.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' final state-by-state report before the Nov. 6 election said unemployment rose in six states and remained unchanged in three from the month before..

In a typical month, the report on state-by-state unemployment shows something of a balance between states with improving or worsening rates, with a handful of states where the rates are unchanged.

Overall,unemployment rates have fallen from a year earlier in 44 states and the District of Columbia, the report said.

Throughout the recovery from the deepest recession since the Great Depression, the national unemployment rate has fallen from a high of 10 percent in October 2009 to the current 7.8 percent. The national unemployment rate was 9 percent in September 2011.

Pundits and politicians will be looking at unemployment rates in swing states for evidence that President Barack Obama's economic policies are working.

Some big states posted gains in employment. Texas added 21,000 jobs in September. Pennsylvania gained 17,800 jobs. The nation's capital added 14,200 jobs in September, more than Michigan, Ohio or Oregon, but those states added jobs, as well -- 13,000, 12,800 and 7,900, respectively.

Regionally, the West continued to post the highest unemployment rate at 9.1 percent -- with the electoral vote-rich state of California posting an unemployment rate of 10.2 percent, the third-highest in the country after Nevada (11.8 percent) and Rhode Island (10.5 percent).

The lowest state jobless rates were posted in the Midwest.

High rates were spread out around the country, perhaps a portentous issue for the president's re-election bid.

New Jersey posted the fourth-highest rate at 9.8 percent. North Carolina's rate is at 9.6 percent and Michigan's rate is at 9.3 percent.

In early October, former head of General Electric Jack Welch accused the Labor Department of rigging the national numbers to help Obama win re-election. Welch was broadly denounced for the comment, but stood his ground in an editorial article published in The Wall Street Journal, lashing at his critics for their "Soviet style" criticism.

National unemployment numbers are released the first Friday of every month. The last one before the Nov. 6 election will be issued Nov. 2.

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