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Unemployment rate drops in key swing states

March 14, 2012: 3:02 PM ET

The Obama campaign got a bit of good news on Tuesday, as new data showed the employment picture is brightening in states that are likely to help decide the 2012 general election.

Mirroring national trends, the unemployment rate dropped or remained static in 12 key swing states in the first month of the year when compared to the previous month, according to the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And when compared to this time last year, the unemployment rate has dropped in all 12.

Michigan registered the biggest drop, with the unemployment rate declining 1.9% between January 2011 and January 2012. But at 9.0%, the new rate is still well above the national average.

Hiring in Ohio and Florida picked up as well, dropping the unemployment rate in both states by 1.3%. Ohio's rate in January was 7.7%, while Florida improved to 9.6%.

Those three states -- Ohio, Florida and Michigan -- are big prizes. They're worth a combined 63 electoral votes come November.

Of course, states with low unemployment rates won't necessarily vote for Obama, and vice versa. But as Election Day approaches, positive economic trends could influence the way some voters perceive the recovery -- and maybe move a few states into the Obama column.

On the flip side, if economic growth slows in the second half of the year and employment trends reverse, that might spell doom for Obama in what is expected to be a very close election.

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About This Author
Charles Riley
Charles Riley
Reporter, CNNMoney

Charles Riley lives and works in Hong Kong, where he covers markets, economics and other high-impact stories across Asia. He previously worked for CNNMoney in New York and CNN in Washington. He tweets @CRrileyCNN

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