WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The final unemployment report before Tuesday's election shows enough employment growth to leave the unemployment rate unchanged. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 171,000 in October, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 7.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. Employment rose in professional and business services, health care, and retail trade, which the number of unemployed across virtually all categories essentially remained unchanged.
The Labor Department reports that Hurricane Sandy had no impact on the employment data.
From a political perspective, the latest data gives neither Presidential candidate much traction. President Obama can claim unemployment is lower than when he took office, while Governor Romney will claim that it still remains too high. State data from September, however, may give a slight edge to Obama because of drops in unemployment is political 'battleground' states where President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney are battling for every vote in a close election.
Overall, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that unemployment rates were lower in September than a year earlier in 345 of the 372 metropolitan areas they track, higher in 22 areas, and unchanged in 5 areas. Even in areas where rates are higher, many of the increases were minimal, while declines in unemployment were often substantial. A majority of areas in the U.S. are now seeing unemployment rates lower than when President Obama took office in January of 2009.
In Wisconsin, the unemployment rate is down to 6.2% from 6.8% a year ago. Even Janesville, home of Vice-Presidential candidate and Republican Congressman Paul Ryan and a city which has suffered since the closure of a GM assembly plant, saw its unemployment rate drop a full percentage point. Iowa's unemployment rate has fallen to 4.4%, one of the lowest in the nation. Florida's unemployment rate is at 8.6%, but that's down two percentage points from one year ago. Ohio's is down 1.7% to a modest 6.5%. Virginia's is even lower, at 5.6%, while the crucial northern part of that state is down to 5.3%. Even Nevada, the battleground state considered to be the worst hit by the housing crisis and recession, the unemployment rate has dropped 2.4%, but it also remains at a nationwide high 11.2%.
Those states in the northeast, west and deep south where the employment picture is not as encouraging are already firmly in the Obama or Romney camp.State data for October will not be available until after the election.
To see the October national data, click on the link below.
To see the September metro area data, click on the link below.