FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, file photo, a sign attracts job-seekers during a job fair at the Marriott Hotel in Colonie, N.Y. The Labor Department reports on state unemployment rates for July 2015 on Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, file photo, a sign attracts job-seekers during a job fair at the Marriott Hotel in Colonie, N.Y. The Labor Department reports on state unemployment rates for July 2015 on Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Mike ... Groll, File) (The Associated Press)

Unemployment falls in nearly half of US states, including some with early nomination battles

Economic Indicators Associated Press

Unemployment rates fell in 24 U.S. states last month, including some of those with early presidential nominating contests.

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Unemployment rates rose in 14 states and were unchanged in 12. Employers added jobs in 34 states and cut them in 16.

In Iowa, site of the nation's first presidential contest, the rate ticked up to a still-low 3.8 percent from 3.7 percent. The unemployment rate in New Hampshire, site of the second contest, slipped to 3.7 percent from 3.8 percent.

Those rates are far below the nation's unemployment rate of 5.3 percent and could lower the importance of the economy in those states as a political issue. Economic issues occupied a small portion of the GOP's first presidential primary debate last month, a stark contrast from the primary debates of 2012.