Unemployment falls in 34 states, rose in six

Several states with competitive Senate races saw their unemployment numbers drop in April, but that trend was bucked by Nevada, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) faces low approval numbers and is a top target for Republicans.

Unemployment in Reid’s state, one of the hardest hit by the housing crisis, jumped from 13.4 percent in March. The state had 40,000 fewer jobs in April 2010 compared to April 2009, according to statistics released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While the figures are troubling for Reid, the report provides some good news in general for Democrats, who have staked their election hopes on an improved economy.

The Labor Department found 34 states and the District of Columbia saw lower jobless rates in April. Six states reported higher rates and 10 held steady, according to the Associated Press.

Several of the 34 states that saw their unemployment rates drop feature tough Senate races this year, including Florida, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Illinois.

Most of the states saw a mere .1 percentage of a decrease but there was more movement in a couple competitive contests.

Illinois, where Democrats are fighting to keep President Barack Obama’s seat, New Hampshire, which is an open seat, and Florida, where three candidates are fighting for an open seat, saw .3 percent decreases.

The high unemployment rate has fueled voters’ anger, causing an anti-incumbent mood to sweep the nation.

But if individual candidates can tout improvements in their states, no matter what happens to the jobless rate on the national level, it could help relieve anxious lawmakers who are worried about the November ballot.

Reid wasn’t the only incumbent Democrat who saw unemployment in his state increase last month.

Colorado, where incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D) faces a difficult primary, saw a rise in unemployment with .1 percent. The state has 58,000 fewer jobs in April 2010 than it had in April 2009, according to the statistics.

Arkansas, where Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) faces a primary runoff in June, and California, where Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) is being challenged, saw no change in their jobless rate.

Overall, seventeen states have unemployment rates above the national average of 9.9 percent. Michigan remains the state with the highest unemployment rate, at 14 percent.