Try the new

April 26, 2012 7:22 pm

Key US states face slow job growth

  • Share
  • Print
  • Clip
  • Gift Article
  • Comments

Job growth in the 14 states pivotal to the presidential election has advanced at a slower pace than in the rest of the US over the past year, a potential source of concern for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

The 14 swing states generated 406,000 new jobs between March 2011 and March 2012, an increase of just 0.97 per cent relative to a base of 41.8m positions.

This rate of payroll formation lags behind the remaining states and the District of Columbia, which have seen 1.22m new jobs over the past year, an increase of 1.36 per cent from a base of 89.3m positions in March 2011, according to FT calculations based on labour department data.

With the state of the economic recovery top of American voters’ minds, Mr Obama has found comfort in the fact that the unemployment rates in the swing states are – on average – lower than the 8.2 per cent national level.

In addition, Mr Obama’s poll numbers in the swing states have improved in recent months, to the point where he is leading Mitt Romney, his presumed Republican challenger, in most surveys in most key states.

However, the more anaemic job creation figures in battleground states do present a risk.

“It highlights the danger for the Obama campaign in talking up unemployment rates in swing states if there is little job creation on the ground,” said Matt McDonald, a consultant at Hamilton Place Strategies and an outside adviser to the Romney campaign.

The push to secure backing in the swing states by Mr Obama and Mr Romney has already been under way for some time, but has kicked into high gear this week.

Mr Romney was in New Hampshire on Tuesday and is scheduled to be in Ohio today. Mr Obama travelled to North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa this week, and his campaign announced on Wednesday that his first formal re-election rallies would take place next week in Ohio and Virginia.

Ohio – a rust belt state that was in the doldrums for much of the past decade but has recently benefited from a resurgence of manufacturing and the federal auto bailout – has an unemployment rate of 7.5 per cent – and job growth of 1.17 per cent.

Florida – which has been crucial in recent presidential elections – has recorded job growth since March 2011 of 1.24 per cent with a higher unemployment rate at 9 per cent.

The Obama campaign has not shown signs of nervousness about the bleaker job creation data in the swing states.

“The president led us back from the brink of another depression,” said Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the campaign, citing 4m private-sector jobs created nationally during the administration.

“Governor Romney has proposed a return to the same policies that led to the economic crisis,” Mr LaBolt added, citing tax cuts for the wealthy and scrapping “investments in the security of the middle class”.

Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign, said: “Governor Romney wants the economy to grow and for Americans to be able to find jobs.”

Related Topics

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from and redistribute by email or post to the web.

  • Share
  • Print
  • Clip
  • Gift Article
  • Comments


Sign up for email briefings to stay up to date on topics you are interested in