(USA TODAY) - Unemployment rates in August rose in 26 states from July, but most states showed lower rates than a year ago, the federal government reported Friday.
Nevada continued to lead the country with the highest unemployment rate, 12.1% in August. Rhode Island had the second-highest rate, 10.7%, and California was next at 10.6%.
Oil-rich North Dakota had the lowest at 3%.
Twelve states and the District of Columbia posted declines in their unemployment rates last month vs. July. Rates were unchanged in 12 states.
Forty-two states and the District of Columbia had lower unemployment rates in August than in August 2011, seven had higher rates and one had no change.
Regionally, unemployment was highest in the West and lowest in the Midwest.
Friday's report will be closely analyzed for its potential impact on the presidential campaign, especially in 12 swing states that are expected to be key battlegrounds.
Those 12 are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, and North Carolina have jobless rates above the national average, which was 8.1% in August.
Among the 12, Michigan's rate rose the most last month, 0.4 percentage point from July, to 9.4%. Rates rose in seven of the 12 compared with July.