Unemployment rates falling in most swing states

Unemployment rates falling in most swing states
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The vast majority of swing-state voters live in states where the economy is doing better than the national average, according to newly released government statistics.

The unemployment rate is lower than the national average in nine of the 13 swing states up for grabs in next month’s presidential election — in some cases considerably so.

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This could help Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonYang expands campaign with senior hires for digital operations Top GOP legislator in California leaves party GOP senators request interview with former DNC contractor to probe possible Ukraine ties MORE, who has linked her campaign to President Obama’s economic record and served in his administration.

Republican nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he will 'temporarily hold off' on declaring Mexican drug cartels as terror organization House Judiciary Committee formally receives impeachment report Artist behind gold toilet offered to Trump sells banana duct-taped to a wall for 0,000 MORE has criticized Obama’s economic stewardship while promising that his administration would increase job production in the United States.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said earlier this month the nation’s unemployment rate stands at 5 percent.

In Colorado and New Hampshire, two swing states where Clinton leads most polls, the unemployment rate is more than a full percentage point lower.

Virginia, Wisconsin and Iowa all boast unemployment rates around 4 percent. Clinton is favored in Virginia and Wisconsin, while Trump has been ahead in Iowa polls.

Utah, where polling shows Clinton and Trump running nearly even with independent conservative candidate Evan McMullin, has an unemployment rate of just 3.4 percent, according to BLS figures released Friday.

Only four swing states — Nevada, Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania — have unemployment rates higher than the national average. 

Even with a higher unemployment rate, Nevada, hit hard by the recession and the bursting housing bubble, has seen its economy improve dramatically since the depths of the economic crisis. The Silver State’s unemployment rate is down to 5.8 percent, almost 8 points lower than its recessionary high of 13.7 percent in November 2010.

Arizona, a reliably red state where polls show Clinton and Trump running neck and neck, has seen its unemployment rate halved from the recessionary high of 11.2 percent. Today, Arizona’s unemployment rate stands at 5.5 percent.

Pennsylvania is one of just three swing states to see its unemployment rate rise over the last year. Since last September, the unemployment rate has risen from 4.9 percent to 5.7 percent.

Iowa’s unemployment rate has risen 0.6 percentage points, though at 4.2 percent it remains below the national average. And in Ohio, the unemployment rate has ticked up two-tenths of a percent in the last year, though its rate too is below the national average at 4.8 percent.

Even eight years after the depths of the recession, voters still say jobs and the economy are their top issues as they consider how to vote in November. A Bloomberg survey released last week showed 21 percent of Americans named jobs and the economy as their top issue, while 18 percent said terrorism concerned them most and 14 percent chose healthcare.

But there is some evidence that the percentage of Americans who place a top priority on the economy as a voting issue has dropped in recent years. Twenty-three percent of Americans told Gallup pollsters that jobs and the economy remain the most significant issues facing the nation earlier this month. In October 2012, 72 percent of Americans cited economic issues as their primary concern.

New Hampshire and South Dakota have the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, at 2.9 percent each. Hawaii, Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota and Vermont all have unemployment rates lower than 4 percent.

Energy-producing states have been hit hard by the post-recession collapse of oil prices, and many of those states have the highest jobless rates in the nation. Alaska, Louisiana and New Mexico all have unemployment rates higher than 6 percent. Wyoming’s unemployment rate stands at 5.3 percent, one percentage point higher than a year ago and barely above the national average.

In the past year, four states — Arkansas, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Tennessee — have seen unemployment rates drop by a full percentage point or more. Every state except Wyoming has seen its overall number of jobs increase in the last year, the BLS said.