Unemployment rates rose in 44 U.S. states in July, the most states to show a monthly increase in more than three years and a reflection of weak hiring nationwide.

The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates fell in only two states and were unchanged in four.

Unemployment rates rose in nine states that are considered battlegrounds in the presidential election. That trend, if it continued, could pose a threat to President Barack Obama's re-election bid in less than three months.