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Jobless rate falls in most battleground states

October 20, 2012 • National News


President Barack Obama gestures while speaking about the choice facing women in the upcoming election, Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, at a campaign event at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

CLEVELAND (AP) — Unemployment rates fell last month in nearly all of the battleground states that will determine the presidential winner, giving President Barack Obama fresh fodder to argue that voters should stick with him in an election focused squarely on the economy.

The declines, however, were modest. It’s unknown whether they will do much to sway undecided voters who are considering whether to back Republican Mitt Romney or give the Democratic president four more years.

The statewide data released by the Labor Department on Friday provide one of the last comprehensive looks at the health of the U.S. economy ahead of Election Day, now a little more than two weeks away. Voters will get one more update on the national unemployment rate just days before the election. But the state reports matter greatly to the Obama and Romney campaigns, which believe the public’s impressions of the economy are shaped mostly by local conditions rather than national ones.

In Ohio, perhaps the most crucial battleground state for both Obama and Romney, the unemployment rate ticked down last month to 7 percent from 7.2 percent, below the national average of 7.8 percent.

“I knew a lot of people who were laid off and now they’re working,” said firefighter Matt Sparling, an Obama supporter from Parma Heights, Ohio. “So something good is happening here.”

Obama’s team is banking on the president getting credit for improvements in Ohio’s economy, particularly for the bailout of the Login to read more

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