WASHINGTON (AP) — The unemployment rate fell or held steady in 40 states in January, the latest sign that hiring is strengthening throughout the country.
The Labor Department said Thursday that the unemployment rate fell in 24 states, the most in seven months, and remained the same in 16. The unemployment rate rose in only 10 states. In December, the rate fell in 15 states and rose in 20.
Employers added to their payrolls in 35 states in January, up from only 15 in the previous month. That’s the most to report higher payrolls since October.
Nationwide, employers added 63,000 net jobs in January, and the unemployment rate fell sharply to 9 percent from 9.4 percent. The rate ticked down last month to 8.9 percent and employers added 192,000 net jobs.
Several states that were hit hard during the recession, including Michigan and California, showed signs of improving.
Three of the five states with the largest job gains were in the Midwest. Michigan added a net total of 39,700 jobs, the second-largest gain among states. Ohio was third with 31,900 net new jobs. Illinois was fourth with 24,500.
Texas added the most jobs, with 44,100. California rounded out the top five, with 22,600 new jobs.
The Midwest also saw the biggest drop in unemployment among the four regions, falling to 8.5 percent from 8.7 percent. The unemployment rate in the South ticked down to 9.2 percent from 9.3 percent. In the West, the rate edged down to 10.9 percent from 11 percent. The Northeast’s rate was unchanged at 8.4 percent.
Georgia lost 15,300 net jobs — the most of any state. It was followed by New Jersey, Florida, South Carolina and Maryland.
Meanwhile, Nevada’s unemployment rate fell to 14.2 percent from 14.9 percent. It was the biggest drop among states, but it remains the highest unemployment rate in the country. California was next, with 12.4 percent unemployment, followed by Florida at 11.9 percent.
North Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate, at 3.8 percent, followed by Nebraska and South Dakota.
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