Forty-one states and Washington, D.C. saw unemployment rates drop in September, the government said Friday in a report laden with election-year fervor.
Throughout the economic recovery, while the unemployment rate has fallen from 10 percent to the current 7.8 percent, a typical month balanced between states with unemployment rates that improve and decline, each month with a handful of states where the rates are unchanged.
But in the final state-by-state report before the Nov. 6 election, the numbers were improved in the vast majority of states, the Labor Department said.
In addition, the report said unemployment rates were unchanged in three states, leaving the politically sensitive rate to rise in only six states, the department said.
From a year earlier, the report said, 44 states and the District of Columbia have seen unemployment rates fall, the report said.
One year earlier, the national unemployment rate was 9 percent.
Pundits and politicians will be looking at unemployment rates in swing states that could show President Barack Obama's economic policies are working, albeit slowly but surely.
Some big states posted gains in employment. Texas added 21,000 jobs in September. Pennsylvania gained 17,800 jobs. The nation's capital added 14,200 jobs in September, more than Michigan, Ohio or Oregon, but those states added jobs, as well -- 13,000, 12,800 and 7,900, respectively.
Regionally, the West continued to post the highest unemployment rate at 9.1 percent -- with the critical election year state of California posting an unemployment rate of 10.2 percent, the third highest in the country after Nevada (11.8 percent) and Rhode Island (10.5 percent).
High rates were spread out around the country, perhaps a portentous issue for the president's re-election bid.
New Jersey posted the fourth highest rate at 9.8 percent. North Carolina's rate is at 9.6 percent and Michigan's rate is at 9.3 percent.
In early October, former head of General Electric Jack Welch famously accused the Labor Department of rigging the national numbers to help President Barack Obama win re-election.
Welch was broadly denounced for the comment, but stood his ground in an editorial article published in The Wall Street Journal, lashing at his critics for their "Soviet style" criticism.
National unemployment numbers are released the first Friday of every month. That leaves one more influential report to come four days before the Nov. 6 election.