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Unemployment rate drops in 41 states, including most swing states

The unemployment rate dropped in 41 states in September, including many of the top swing states in the presidential race, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As we noted this a.m. in Morning Fix, the state-based unemployment numbers can actually be a better indication of how the voters that matter in the 2012 election (i.e. swing state voters) are viewing the economy than the national unemployment figures.

And just as President Obama got a relatively good national jobs report earlier this month, on Friday he got an improved state-based jobs report.

Among the states seeing a decline in their unemployment rate were:

* Colorado (from 8.2 percent in August to 8.0 percent in September)

* Florida (from 8.8 percent to 8.7 percent)

* Iowa (from 5.5 percent to 5.2 percent)

* Nevada (from 12.1 percent to 11.8 percent)

* North Carolina (from 9.7 percent to 9.6 percent)

* Ohio (from 7.2 percent to 7 percent)

* Wisconsin (from 7.5 percent to 7.3 percent)

The rate stayed the same in two states that already have among the lower unemployment rates: New Hampshire (5.7 percent) and Virginia (5.9 percent).

One state where the unemployment rate increased was Pennsylvania (from 8.1 percent to 8.2 percent), which is currently seen as likely to go for Obama even though polls suggest the GOP could compete there.

Given the nationwide unemployment rate drop in September (from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent), it's not surprising that a similar shift would happen at the state level. 

In addition, as we noted this morning, if you add up the electoral votes in swing states that have unemployment rates higher than the national average and do the same for state below the national average, it splits about 50-50.

But if undecided voters in these states see the improving unemployment rates as a sign of economic progress, it could mitigate concerns about Obama's handling of the economy.

At the same time, the overall jobs picture is very much a work in progress, and unemployment is still high across the country, which is a big reason Mitt Romney has a good chance at unseating Obama.


Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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