The unemployment rate rose last month in every battleground state in the presidential election except Ohio.
Employers still added jobs in more than half of the electoral swing states, indicating progress in local economies. Competition for job openings heightened as more people resumed looking for work.
The trend, captured in state-level data released today by the U.S. Labor Department, parallels changes in the nationwide employment picture. National unemployment rose to 8.3 percent in July even as employers added 163,000 jobs during the month.
In an election dominated by economic concerns, President Barack Obama has benefited from better local conditions in many of the states where he and Republican Mitt Romney have concentrated their efforts.
Moody’s Analytics Inc., which forecasts presidential election results based solely on state-by-state economic data and past voting behavior, predicted Obama winning 303 electoral votes earlier this month.
A candidate needs to capture 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency. The 12 swing states, which have historically been competitive or are targeted by one of the campaigns, have a combined total of 151 votes. Not all of them will be in play in November.
The Labor Department report shows swing-state voters confronted a tighter job market in July, except for Ohio, where the unemployment rate was steady at 7.2 percent. Ohio’s economy has been aided by the rebound of the auto industry and a surge in oil and natural gas development through the use of a technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Ohio was one of only six states that did not experience a rise in its unemployment rate.
Ohio ranks sixth in overall economic health, according to the Bloomberg Economic Evaluation of States.
See the state-by-state jobless count and the potential political impact of it at Bloomberg News.