U.S. Experiencing Uneven Job Growth Across States

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(AP) -- U.S. companies have added jobs for 12 straight months, but the gains across the country have been uneven and a little surprising.

California and Michigan, which each suffered some of the worst job losses during the recession, are adding jobs again. California last month had its single best month for job creation in more than two decades. Still, six states lost jobs from February 2010 through last month, including Kansas and New Jersey, state that weren't considered troubled spots.

Overall, 44 states added jobs in that stretch, one of the best year over-year showings since the recession ended. And the unemployment rate has fallen in 41 states, the Labor Department said Friday. Last month the unemployment rate dropped in 27 states, compared to the previous month. It rose in seven states and stayed the same in 16. That's the most states to report a drop since last June, when many states were still benefiting from census hiring.

Nationwide, employers have added 1.3 million jobs from February 2010 through last month.

California, which was still losing jobs as recently as September, has added nearly 200,000 jobs in that time. That's second only to Texas, which added 254,200 net jobs.

Nearly half of that increase in California occurred in February, when the state gained 96,500 jobs. That's the most on records dating back to 1990.

"California ... has been lagging the United States a bit, but it seems to be catching up this year," said Jerry Nickelsburg, senior economist with the University of California, Los Angeles' quarterly Anderson Forecast.

The state has seen big gains in shipping, software development, technology and food processing jobs, Nickelsburg said. The boost in hiring occurred even as government at all levels cut more than 60,000 jobs.

Michigan, meanwhile, added 71,000 jobs last year. That's the first sustained job gain the state has seen in the past decade, said Sophia Koropeckyj, a managing director at Moody's Analytics.

Michigan's unemployment rate has plummeted from 13.5 percent to 10.4 percent, the biggest drop in the nation. Half of the decline reflects a large drop in the state's work force. Once unemployed workers give up looking for jobs, they are no longer counted as unemployed.

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