The jobless rate rose in August in five of 10 states considered battlegrounds in the U.S. presidential election less than two months before voters head to the polls.
Unemployment climbed in Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Iowa, North Carolina and Nevada, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington. The rate dropped in Colorado and New Mexico, and was unchanged from July in Ohio, Florida and Virginia. Joblessness in six of the 10 states is below the national average of 8.1 percent.
Changes in the unemployment rate in the swing states may influence voters as they weigh President Barack Obama’s argument that his policies are helping heal the economy and Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s contention that the president’s policies have left Americans worse off than they were four years ago.
“In the last six months or so, the trends have never been negative from Obama’s point of view — the growth has been slow, but it’s been steady,” said Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist at the University of Texas in Austin, who studies voter behavior in presidential elections. “And that has gradually defanged the economic issue as a promising one for Romney.”
Employers cut jobs in six of the electoral swing states in August, including Ohio and Virginia. Florida and Wisconsin showed a pickup in employment.