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Do the jobs numbers matter to voters?

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Dan Connaghan, 69, a retiree in Traverse City, Mich., who supports Romney, agrees. "Unemployment figures don't have an effect on my vote." He questions their accuracy. But he also says there's one thing he knows for sure: "We're worse off than we were four years ago. No doubt about it."

Pollster Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, said the government numbers "give people a basis of confirmation of their own sense about the economic issues that are the most important to them. And right now, it's jobs."

Only 10 percent of the people in a recent Pew survey consider today's economic conditions "excellent" or "good," Kohut said.

To homeowners, the value of their house ranks high. With nearly half the nation's adult population owning stocks and other securities, mostly through 401(k) and similar programs at work or in pension funds, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is paid some heed.

At its Friday close, the Dow marked its highest level since December 2007, the first month of the recession.

Other reports are more ominous.

The government reported this past week that the income of the typical American household has fallen to levels last seen in 1995.

Interest rates are also followed by many. When they're low, as now, it means individuals and businesses with good credit can borrow money at exceptionally low rates.

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