US jobless rates drop in 34 states, including DC

WASHINGTON - Unemployment rates fell in a majority of states last month as improved economic conditions spurred hiring.

By Jeannine Aversa (AP)

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Published: Sat 22 May 2010, 11:07 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 11:09 AM

The Labour Department said on Friday that 34 states and the District of Columbia reported lower jobless rates in April. Six states reported higher rates, while 10 saw unemployment hold steady.

That marked an improvement from March when 16 states and DC reported declines in unemployment, 22 states saw increases, and 12 had no change, according to revised figures.

South Carolina’s rate fell to 11.6 per cent in April, from 12.2 per cent in March. That marked the largest monthly drop of any state.

After cutting their work forces to the bone during the recession, companies are starting to boost hiring as their sales and profits improve.

Nationwide, employers added a net 290,000 job in April, the most in four years, the department reported earlier this month. The US unemployment rate, though, rose to 9.9 per cent as hundreds of thousands of job hunters — feeling more confident about their prospects — resumed or started searches.

Even as the employment picture is less bleak in many states, and the nation as a whole, many economists predict it will take years for the job market to get back to normal. A normal nationwide unemployment rate typically hovers around 5.5 to 6 per cent. It’s going to be a long slog because economic growth isn’t robust enough for companies to ramp up hiring and quickly drive down the jobless rate.

Michigan, whose manufacturing base was clobbered by the recession, once again recorded the highest unemployment rate of any state — 14 per cent. The rate dipped from 14.1 per cent in March.

Nevada was close behind. It’s rate rose to 13.7 per cent last month, the highest on records dating back to 1976. California rounded out the top three with a rate of 12.6 per cent, unchanged from March. Nevada and California — states at the heart of the housing boom — have been slammed by the market’s bust and have been swamped by a wave of foreclosures.

North Dakota again had the lowest jobless rate — 3.8 per cent. That’s down from four per cent in March. It was followed by South Dakota, whose rate dipped to 4.7 per cent in April, from 4.8 per cent in March, and Nebraska at five per cent, unchanged from the previous month.

Friday’s report also said that a majority of states saw employers boost jobs in April. The top three gainers: Ohio, with saw payrolls grow by 37,300 in April, from March; Pennsylvania, with 34,000 net new jobs; and New York with 32,700.

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