Unemployment Rates Fall in Most Battleground States

Jobless rates dropped in most swing states last month. View updated data for all 50 states.
by | October 19, 2012 AT 4:00 PM

Several key battleground states showed noticeable drops in the unemployment rate in Friday’s jobs report, the last to be released with state-by-state estimates before the November elections.

Seasonally-adjusted jobless rates fell in almost all states considered to be in play last month with the exception of Pennsylvania, where it increased 0.1 percent. September jobless rates remained unchanged for Virginia and New Hampshire.

Across the country, the U.S. Labor Department reported month-over-month unemployment rate declines in 41 states, while only six experienced an uptick. The estimates mirror the drop in the national unemployment rate, which fell from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September.

A few swing states recorded notable gains for the month.

Nevada’s unemployment rate -- the nation’s highest -- dipped 0.3 percent to 11.8 percent in September. The state added an estimated 7,100 jobs for the month, including a few thousand in the construction and business service sectors.

Colorado and Wisconsin, two other states the campaigns are targeting, each added jobs and saw their seasonally adjusted unemployment rates decline 0.2 percent.

The Labor Department’s household survey used to calculate the unemployment rate and the payroll survey of employers yielded contrasting results for some other states, likely to provide fodder for both presidential campaigns.

Pennsylvania added 17,800 jobs for the month -- second only behind Texas -- but its unemployment rate from the household survey actually rose 0.1 percent. Virginia’s nonfarm employment swelled by 11,500 positions, while its unemployment rate remained unchanged.

Ohio’s total payroll employment shrunk by 12,800 for the month, which is the largest loss of nearly every state, but its jobless rate still dipped 0.2 percent for the month to 7 percent. Similarly, Iowa also lost jobs, but its seasonally adjusted rate noticeably dropped 0.3 percent.

The unemployment rate considers the total size of a state’s labor force, which fluctuates as workers enter and exit the job market from region to region.

Texas (+21,000), Pennsylvania (+17,800) and the District of Columbia (+14,200) tallied the most net job gains over the month.

The Labor Department will release its October national jobs report Nov. 2 -- less than a week before Election Day.

State Employment Totals and Unemployment Rates for September:

NOTE: September figures are preliminary. Job totals and unemployment rates are seasonally adjusted.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics