Unemployment rises in swing states in July
The unemployment rate rose in almost all states in July -- more evidence of the weakness and fragility of the Obama "recovery."
Unemployment rates rose in July from June in almost all states, including those where the presidential election fight is expected to be fiercest, according to data released on Friday by the Labor Department.
Altogether, jobless rates rose in 44 states. Rates dropped in Idaho, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia, and were unchanged in four states.
As the country moves closer to November's election day, voters' attention is squarely focused on the economy and a national jobless rate hovering above 8 percent.
Because of the unique U.S. political system in which states cast electoral votes for president, the contest between President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney is heating up in seven states where polling suggests voters are undecided.
In those states - Nevada, Florida, Colorado, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia and Iowa - jobless rates all rose or were flat in July. Nevada again had the highest rate in the nation at 12 percent, while Florida's 8.8 percent and Colorado's 8.3 percent were both at or above the July national rate of 8.3 percent.
In addition to being a perennial battleground state, Florida this year is home to the Republican convention where Romney will officially become the party's candidate.
Obama has been in office since the recession ended in mid-2009, and many consider the election a referendum on his performance on the economy. A majority of Americans view the economy as the most important issue facing the country, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Romney has hammered Obama about employment conditions. A recent Gallup poll found that 37 percent of Americans approve of Obama's job creation efforts, compared with 40 percent in February.
One of the victories Obama touts is the turnaround in Michigan, a state whose fortunes are tied closely to the automobile industry. In the 2008 election, Michigan consistently held the highest jobless rate in the country. Obama pushed through a bailout package for the auto industry during the height of the financial crisis.
Still, Michigan is considered a battleground state that is only leaning toward Obama. In July, its jobless rate shot up to 9 percent from 8.6 percent in June.
Hard to see how Obama can tout the "success" of his auto bailout in Michigan with the rate of unemployment at 9% in that state. Recent polls show Obama and Romney in a near statistical tie in the state which Obama won by 16 points in 2008.
The Wolverine state is another battleground that Obama won easily in 2008 that he must now expend more resources and time to hold. A Romney win in Michigan would substantially ease his path to 270 electoral votes and make a second Obama term an uphill climb for the president.