08/21/2015 10:44 EDT | Updated 08/21/2016 01:12 EDT

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

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

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 per cent from 3.7 per cent. The unemployment rate in New Hampshire, site of the second contest, slipped to 3.7 per cent from 3.8 per cent.

Those rates are far below the nation's unemployment rate of 5.3 per cent 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.

Christopher S. Rugaber, The Associated Press