Within the data about new jobless claims released this morning by the Labor Department, there is a disturbing trend for the McCain campaign. Five of the top ten states with the highest amount of new jobless claims are swing states being targeted by Barack Obama.
Overall, the number of jobless claims jumped 34,000 from 372,000 last week to 406,000 this week. Even more telling is the fact that the four week rolling average also increased 4,500 to 382,500 from last week. Unemployment claims jumped from 298,366 one week ago this year, to an unadjusted 414,269 claims to state programs this year.
What are telling for the 2008 election are the states which are experiencing the highest increase in unemployment claims. The national leader was New York which had 13,909 new claims due to layoffs in construction, transportation, and public administration. Second was California which had 9,416 new claims due to service industry layoffs.
Then came the South. North Carolina is an Obama target and it was third nationally, as it had 9,344 new jobless claims due to layoffs in the electronic equipment, electrical equipment, transportation equipment, textile, furniture, lumber/wood, and rubber/plastics industries.
Fourth was Tennessee, which is a likely McCain state, which suffered layoffs in similar sectors as North Carolina. Fifth was swing state Georgia, which had 7,000 new claims due to layoffs in textile and manufacturing industries. Sixth and seventh were likely McCain states South Carolina and Alabama.
Rounding out the top ten were three swing states that the Obama campaign certainly has their eyes on, Florida, Missouri, and Virginia, which all experienced layoffs in the manufacturing sector. It is not a coincidence that Obama has a realistic chance of winning seven of these ten states. Although it is likely that Florida will go for McCain, the point is that these states are ripe for Obama’s economic message.
Republicans don’t seem to understand that when a person loses their job, tax cuts aren’t going to do them a lot of good. Unemployed people need health insurance, not a tax credit that kicks in after they buy a policy. People who are losing, or have lost their jobs, want to work. John McCain doesn’t get this, which means that Obama’s economic message should be more welcome in swing states that are being hit hard by the economy.