Chris Cillizza noted this morning that the Bureau of Labor Statistics was poised to release its state-by-state jobs report, showing unemployment changes over the last year, which he argued is “absolutely important as a broad indicator of economic optimism or pessimism.”
It’s a reasonable point. After all, the vast majority of Americans are only exposed to the job market in their immediate area – they either see “help wanted” signs or they don’t; their friends and neighbors are either working or they’re not; etc.
Several battlegrounds states, including Florida, Nevada and Ohio, saw large drops in unemployment over the last 12 months, the government reported Wednesday.
The latest state-by-state numbers, the last batch before the election, show that Nevada actually saw the largest drop of any state. The unemployment rate declined by 1.8 percentage points between September 2011 and September 2012, although the state still has the nation’s highest unemployment rate, 11.8 percent.
Florida and Ohio also ranked among the 10 states with the largest drops in unemployment, down 1.7 percentage points and 1.6 points respectively.
Of the nine swing states, only New Hampshire saw the jobless rate inch higher, but even a slight increase pushed the state’s rate to 5.7 percent, which is extremely low by national standards.
Looking ahead, keep a few angles in mind.
First, as President Obama travels to these battlegrounds, he’ll no doubt want to take advantage of these numbers to make the case that the economy is obviously improving, and it’d be tragic to go back to the policies that got us into this mess in the first place.
Second, because several of these states have Republican governors, watch to see if Mitt Romney pressures them to downplay the good news. It has happened before.
And third, will the right’s conspiracy theorists again accuse the BLS of manipulating the data?