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The unemployment picture is even better for Democrats in key Senate races

As The Fix boss notes, Friday's surprising jobs numbers -- 288,000 jobs created and lowest unemployment rate since 2008 -- might give Democrats some reason for optimism about the 2014 election.

Republicans will disagree with that premise altogether, noting that the labor force participation rate is still very low (which makes the unemployment rate look better) and that the first-quarter gross domestic product -- released in a report just this week -- was poor.

But for a Democratic Party in search of some (or really ANY) motivation for its base, Friday's jobs report helps. And, upon closer examination, it might help even more than the national numbers suggest. That's because the unemployment picture in the states holding key Senate races is actually quite a bit better for Democrats than the national picture.

According to the most recent state figures available, from March, the unemployment rate in 11 of the top 13 states Democrats are defending was below the national average, and the rate was actually at or below 5 percent in six of those 11 states.

UnemploymentState

Those 11 states include arguably the three most pivotal states when it comes to the Senate majority: Alaska, North Carolina and Louisiana.

Meanwhile, in the two states Republicans are defending -- Georgia and Kentucky -- the unemployment rate was above the national average.

Alaska and North Carolina, for what it's worth, weren't far off the national numbers. And continued problems with the nation's economy -- up to and including labor force participation and the GDP -- will continue to color any discussion about the 2014 election and President Obama's job performance.

But the totality of the data does suggest the economy-- at the very least -- isn't going to be Democrats' Achilles heel in many key Senate races.

And for the real political nerds out there, here's how the unemployment trend looks in all of these states:

South Dakota

South Dakota

New Hampshire
New Hampshire

Iowa
Iowa

Louisiana
Louisiana

Minnesota
Minnesota

Virginia
Virginia
Montana
Montana

West Virginia

West Virginia

Colorado

Colorado

North Carolina

North Carolina

Alaska
Alaska

Arkansas

Arkansas

Georgia
Georgia

Michigan
MIchigan

Kentucky
Kentucky

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

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Republicans debated Saturday night. The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
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