America's jobs recovery continued in September, but with two weeks to go until Election Day, plenty of states still have unemployment rates higher than the national average.
Three of them are key swing states: Pennsylvania's jobless rate stood at 8.1% last month, Michigan's was 8.5% and Ohio's came in at 8.4%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday. The US average unemployment rate last month September stood at 7.9%.
President Donald Trump and Joe Biden are battling for voters in these important states. Polls show Biden leading in Pennsylvania and Michigan, while the contenders are almost head-to-head in Ohio.
The president is heading into Election Day with the highest unemployment rate on record since monthly tracking began in 1948.
Before President Barack Obama's re-election in 2012, the nationwide unemployment rate was initially also reported at 7.9%, before being revised down a smidge to 7.8%.
But no matter who wins the election, the next administration will have to work hard to repair the country's rattled labor market.
In September, the nation was still down 10.7 million jobs compared to February -- before Covid-19 hit and forced the country into lockdown.
Since the worst job losses of the crisis in the spring, the jobless rate has dropped rapidly -- and faster than economists had predicted. But in September, the decline was due partly to the unexpectedly high rate of people dropping out of the labor force. This was especially true for women in the prime working age between 35 and 44.
People who are no longer in the labor force, no longer actively looking for work, are not accounted for in the nation's unemployment rate.
The state-by-state numbers also hammer home that the recovery continues to be uneven. For example, states reliant on hospitality and tourism business, such as Hawaii and Nevada, which were hit harder by the crisis, are still lagging behind. The jobless rate in Hawaii stood at 15.1% in September, while Nevada's was at 12.6%, the two worst rates in the country.
Meanwhile, Nebraska has the country's lowest rate of joblessness at only 3.5%.