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Unemployment rate rises in 44 states

The strength of the job market and the economy at large is still expected to play a key role in November’s match-up between Obama and the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. 

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At the same time, Romney’s recent choice of Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 House passes stopgap spending measure with defense money MORE (R-Wis.), the House GOP’s budget guru, as his running mate also appears to have brought issues like Medicare and budget deficits more to the forefront of the campaign. 

Even though the unemployment rate remains north of 8 percent, some analysts expected Obama to get a boost because many of the swing states that both campaigns are targeting have jobless rates below the national average. 

But among the dozen or so states that both parties are contesting, only Ohio — which saw its rate stay at 7.2 percent — did not see an increase in July.

Nevada, which continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the country, saw its rate jump back to 12 percent, up from June’s 11.6 percent. New Hampshire (now 5.4 percent), Pennsylvania (7.9 percent) and Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin (7.3 percent) each saw rises of 0.3 percentage points. 

Still, even with last month’s increases, several swing states have seen substantial reductions in their unemployment rate over the last year. In all, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that 17 states and D.C. have seen substantial decreases since July 2011, with only New York having a statistically significant increase. 

Florida (now 8.8 percent), Michigan (9 percent), Nevada, North Carolina (9.6 percent) and Ohio have all seen their rates drop at least a percentage point over the last year.

The Labor Department also said Friday that 31 states added net jobs last month, with Michigan and Virginia adding the second and third most, respectively.