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Is the economy truly improving? Depends on which Republican you ask

Nationally, Republicans are continuing to highlight any shortcomings in the U.S. economy as a way to question President Barack Obama's policies.

The same isn't true, however, with some GOP governors running for re-election this year.

“Every American has a right to ask the question, ‘Where are the jobs?’" said House Speaker John Boehner when last month's jobs report said that just 74,000 jobs were created in Dec. 2013 -- when most of the other economic numbers were positive. "Today’s disappointing report shows, once again, that the president’s policies are failing too many Americans, many of whom have simply stopped looking for work."

In her response to Obama's State of the Union, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wa., added: "Last month, more Americans stopped looking for a job than found one. Too many people are falling further and further behind because, right now, the president's policies are making people's lives harder."

But that isn't the message coming from Republican governors -- especially those up for re-election later this fall -- whose states have seen declining unemployment rates.

These Republicans are talking up the economy, which grew at robust 3.2 percent annual rate in the final quarter of 2013. 

“Once again, we continue to distance ourselves from the national unemployment rate and create opportunities for Florida families," said Florida Gov. Rick Scott after the news that the state's unemployment rate dipped to 6.2 percent.

The Republican Governors Association also blasted out this message earlier in the week: "In Dec. 2013, the unemployment rate dropped in every state with a Republican governor. This is the second straight month of this achievement, which also occurred in Nov. 2013. The evidence is clear: Republican governors are getting results."

Yet as it turns out, unemployment rates across the country -- nationally and in states controlled by both Dem and GOP governors -- have declined. Here are the statistics in 11 of this year's most competitive gubernatorial races where the incumbent is running for re-election.

Colorado (Hickenlooper - D): 6.2% (down 2.8 points since Dec. 2010)
Connecticut (Malloy - D): 7.4% (down 2 points)
Florida (Scott - R): 6.2% (down 4.9 points)
Georgia (Deal - R): 7.4% (down 2.8 points)
Illinois (Quinn - D): 8.6% (down 1.5 points)
Maine: 6.2% (LePage - R) (down 1.8 points)
Michigan (Snyder - R): 8.4% (down 2.9 points)
Ohio (Kasich - R): 7.2% (down 2 points)
Pennsylvania (Corbett - R): 6.9% (down 1.2 points)
South Carolina (Haley - R): 6.6% (down 4.1 points)
Wisconsin (Walker - R): 6.2% (down 1.6 points)

And the national unemployment rate stands at 6.7%, down from 9.4% in Dec. 2010.

This rhetorical split between national Republicans and GOP governors looking to tout falling unemployment rates in their states occurred during the 2012 presidential election.

But with Obama no longer on the ballot, don't be surprised if you hear more politicians -- Democratic and Republican -- cheering the economy in 2014, which could produce interesting storylines come the fall elections.

Indeed, you could see the situation where national Democrats and state GOP governors are touting an improving economy, and national Republicans and some state Democratic challengers are downplaying it.

NBC's Natalie Cucchiara contributed to this report.