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Where are the jobs? Go West, sort of

From NBC's Chuck Todd and Ali Weinberg
Last week, we received a press release from Virginia Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine touting the fact that his state had seen its unemployment rate drop for the second straight month. It got us wondering, what states are bucking the national trend.

Here's what we found out after a thorough examination of the Bureau of Labor Statistics web site. (And remember when reading this data, state unemployment numbers are a month behind the national data; so all of this is as of August).

Just three states registered job INCREASES in the month of August: Montana, North Carolina and West Virginia.  In addition, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas and Virginia all had an unemployment rate DECREASES.

Also, it's worth noting that the two Dakotas (4.3% and 4.9% respectively) and Nebraska (5.0%) continued to report overall low jobless rates.

A few quick points:
-- You can't look at this data and not notice that two of the most important swing states in the country right now -- Colorado and Virginia -- are seeing some light at the end of their tough economic tunnel. That's a potentially HUGE development politically for the current White House occupant.
-- Obviously, this recession hasn't hit the northern plains states very hard; that's clear from the Montana, Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas data.
-- We plan to delve into the data even more to see if there is a pattern to these states in particular.  Why are they showing the first signs of recovery? Each of these state governors will probably claim credit for a friendly business climate etc, but is there something else?  We'd love to hear your theories as well.