The Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday reported three states saw a sizable decrease in employment in September, adding a new element to an already unpredictable presidential race.
Unemployment rates were "generally lower" in 41 states and the District of Columbia, according to the report, but three states still posted decreases in jobs: Michigan (-13,000), Ohio (-12,800), and Oregon (-7,900).
Here's a summary of the BLS report:
- Areas with the largest over-the-month increase in employment: Texas (+21,000), Pennsylvania (+17,800), and the District of Columbia (+14,200)
- States with the largest over-the-month decrease in employment: Michigan (-13,000), Ohio (-12,800), and Oregon (-7,900)
- Areas with the largest over-the-month percentage increase in employment: Washington, D.C. (+2.0 percent), Maine (+0.9 percent), and South Carolina (+0.7 percent)
- States with the largest over-the-month percentage declines in employment: Oregon (-0.5 percent each), Wyoming (-0.5 percent each), and West Virginia (-0.4 percent)
- Over the year, nonfarm employment increased in 44 states and the District of Columbia, decreased in 5 states, and remained unchanged in Maine
- The largest over-the-year percentage increase occurred in North Dakota (+5.6 percent)
- The largest over-the-year percentage decreases in employment occurred in New Mexico and West Virginia (-1.3 percent each)
The West (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming) held on to its “Region With the Highest Unemployment Rates” title in September (the average being 9.1 percent)
“Nevada continued to record the highest unemployment rate among the states, 11.8 percent in September. Rhode Island and California posted the next highest rates, 10.5 and 10.2 percent, respectively,” the BLS report reads.
Meanwhile, the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) posted the nation's lowest unemployment rates (7.4 percent being the average).
“In total, 21 states reported jobless rates significantly lower than the U.S. figure of 7.8 percent, 14 states had measurably higher rates, and 15 states and the District of Columbia had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation,” the report adds.
But are there any implications to the BLS data? That is, is it important that Ohio, Oregon, and Michigan are posting sizable job losses this close to Election Day?
Considering the important role Ohio has traditionally played in U.S. presidential elections (18 electoral votes) and the fact that Michigan is currently a "toss up" state (16 electoral votes), we'd say it is.
(Oregon, on the other hand, is deep blue and we doubt the BLS report will change that).
A decrease in employment right before November 6 could push voters in Ohio and Michigan to choose between a candidate who has primarily campaigned on economic issues and a candidate who seems awfully preoccupied with things like Sesame Street and office supplies.
True, certain polls indicate President Obama leads in both Michigan and Ohio, but will that last?
As mentioned before on TheBlaze, the president hasn’t exactly made the economic case for his re-election. Rather, he has focused almost exclusively on social issues (i.e. fighting for free birth control, celebrating the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," arguing the importance of continued funding for Planned Parenthood, etc.).
Will focusing on things like birth control really keep the president in the lead?
Will the 13,000 in Michigan or the 12,800 in Ohio vote for four more years "Change" and "Forward"? Or will things like the loss of jobs convince them to vote for the candidate who seems genuinely interested in economic issues?
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Front page photos courtesy the AP.