Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Jobs were one of the things President Barack Obama and his supporters pushed most when they campaigned in closely contested territory in 2008. In the battleground state of Ohio, for example, the AFL-CIO's state leader told voters that Obama would "advance the interest of working people for a change."

But as this chart shows, creation of nonfarm jobs in most swing states has been well below the national average, which itself is not so great. (Swing states are defined here as those in which the winning candidate received less than 52 percent of the vote 2008.)

Between January 2009 and today, the swing states that voted for Obama have lost more than half a million jobs. North Carolina's level of employment has declined by 3.5 percent, almost double the 1.9 percent decline in the national payroll figure over the same period.

Montana and Virginia were the only swing states to post stronger job growth than the aggregate economy in the period since Obama took office.

Across all these states, unemployment has started to improve somewhat since the worst days of 2009 -- but not to levels that would put voters in the mood to reward an incumbent.

(Amity Shlaes, a Bloomberg View columnist and a senior fellow in economic history at the Council on Foreign Relations, oversees the Echoes blog. The opinions expressed are her own. Ilan Kolet, who created this graphic, is a data editor at Bloomberg News.)