New State Jobs Report: A Political Loser for Both Sides

New State Jobs Report: A Political Loser for Both Sides

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Those singing the praises of Texas Governor Rick Perry’s jobs machine can take little solace from the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which took a look at job creation and unemployment in the states.

While Texas created the second highest number of jobs in July, trailing New York for the top spot, its unemployment rate ticked closer to the national average of 9.1 percent for the second month in a row, rising two-tenths of a percentage point to 8.4 percent.

That’s because Texas is the nation’s second largest economy and its rate of new job creation did not rank anywhere near the top, falling well behind Hawaii, Utah, and Michigan, which led the pack. In terms of total jobs created, New York led the states with 29,400 new jobs in July, followed by Texas with 29,300 and Michigan with 23,000. The working populations in New York and Michigan are 81 percent and 37 percent the size of Texas, respectively.

On the other side of the political divide, President Obama’s political and economic advisers should be chewing their nails over the continued poor jobs performance in key swing states. His home state of Illinois led the nation in job losses, while other leading losers included Florida, Minnesota and Indiana, which also voted Democratic in the last presidential election.

What matters in politics, of course, is employment’s general direction. If people perceive things are getting better, they may cut the president some slack, even if the overall unemployment rate remains high. It happened for President Reagan in 1984.

But there’s little good news for the president on that front, either, and the latest economic news suggests things aren’t about to turn around. Only eight states posted a lower unemployment rates in July compared to June, while 13 saw their rates stay the same. The rest saw their unemployment rates tick up.

Here are the top ten states with the highest and lowest rates in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Nevada  12.9
California 12.0
South Carolina 10.9
Michigan 10.9
Rhode Island 10.8
District of Columbia 10.8
Florida  10.7 
North Carolina 10.1
Georgia  10.1
Tennessee   9.8 

North Dakota 3.3
Nebraska  4.1
New Hampshire 5.2
South Dakota 5.5
Vermont  5.7
Wyoming  5.8
Iowa  6.0
Virginia 6.1
Hawaii  6.1
Kansas  6.5

spent 25 years as a foreign correspondent, economics writer and investigative business reporter for the Chicago Tribune and other publications. He is the author of the 2004 book, The $800 Million Pill: The Truth Behind the Cost of New Drugs.