Jobless rate down in 23 states in September

WASHINGTON (BestGrowthStock) – Unemployment rates dropped in September in most states, the Labor Department said on Friday ahead of early November elections where jobs are expected to be a key focus for voters selecting governors, state legislators and federal lawmakers.

The unemployment rate dropped from the prior month in 23 states and the District of Columbia, and was lower than a year earlier in 29 states and the nation’s capital.

Still, the number of workers dropped in a significant number of states. Nonfarm payroll employment decreased in 34 states, with the largest decline — 63,500 jobs — in California. New York followed, shedding 37,600 jobs last month.

In contrast, only 16 states gained jobs. The District of Columbia, a city without a state, had the largest increase at 16,500 positions.

Over the year, employment increased in 32 states and decreased in 18, the Labor Department said.

Nevada again had the highest unemployment rate, unchanged from August at 14.4 percent, while Michigan followed with 13 percent and California took third place at 12.4 percent.

North Dakota again had the lowest rate at 3.7 percent, followed by neighbors South Dakota, at 4.4 percent, and Nebraska, at 3.7 percent.

Worries about employment are expected to weigh on voters heading into polling on November 2.

The national unemployment rate has held above 9 percent for 17 straight months and the official end last summer of the longest recession since World War Two has not convinced Americans that the labor market will recover any time soon.

Governorships are at stake in 37 states, and an analyst at Cook Political Report is forecasting that Republicans will control more than 30 of those offices after the election.

Currently 23 states have Republican governors, not counting Florida Governor Charlie Crist who, although elected as a Republican, recently announced an independent bid for the Senate.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, is in a rematch against the governor he replaced four years ago, Republican Bob Ehrlich.

O’Malley touted the Labor Department report as good news for the mid-Atlantic state’s economy even though its jobless rate jumped to 7.5 percent in September from 7.3 in August. That was still well below the national rate of 9.6 percent.

“As the nation loses jobs, Maryland continues to add them,” O’Malley said, pointing to an increase last month of 4,800.

The rhetoric about the economy is strongest in California, where the unemployment rate for the world’s eighth-largest economy is near the 12.4 percent historical high it reached in March and the jobless rate has been above 10 percent for 20 consecutive months.

Meg Whitman, Republican candidate for governor of the most populous state in the nation, has suggested improving job prospects through tax changes. She wants to cut small business, factory and capital gains taxes while boosting research and development tax credits.

The Democratic contender, California’s former governor and current Attorney General Jerry Brown, would like to expand jobs in the clean energy sector and create tax incentives to boost manufacturing.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Jobless rate down in 23 states in September