By Bernie Becker - 08/17/12 04:59 PM EDT
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.
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.