Unemployment rates rose in 44 U.S. states in July, the most states to show a monthly increase in more than three years and a reflection of weak hiring across the United States.
The Labor Department says unemployment rates fell in only two states and were unchanged in four.
Unemployment rates rose in nine states that are considered battlegrounds in the presidential election. That trend, if it continued, could pose a threat toPresident Barack Obama's re-election bid in less than three months.
Three months before the election, President Barack Obama gets good marks from Americans for his handling of terrorism, fair marks for education and foreign affairs, but poor marks on immigration and three big economic issues: the federal budget deficit, creating jobs, and the economy generally.
These ratings, from a Gallup poll conducted Aug. 9-12, are similar to Americans' previous ratings of Obama's performance on each issue, as measured in 2011 and early February 2012. Only his approval on terrorism (58%) is down slightly from the peak level (63%) seen last fall after the killing of Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi. Also, his approval on education, at 49%, is up slightly from 41% last August.
Obama's ratings on the economy are significantly worse than all three prior successful presidential incumbents at this same point in their first term, according to the available Gallup trends. His 36% approval rating on the economy is well below George W. Bush's rating in August 2004 (46%), Bill Clinton's in August 1996 (54%), and Ronald Reagan's in July 1984 (50%). Still, in terms of comparisons to presidents who lost, Obama's economic rating is substantially better than that of George H.W. Bush in July 1992 (18%). Gallup did not measure Americans' approval of Jimmy Carter on the economy in 1980.