Majority of states see unemployment rates move higher in October

Given that the nation's overall unemployment rate rose to its highest level in decades in October, it's perhaps not surprising that a majority of states reported higher numbers of joblessness last month compared to September, according to fresh data released Friday from the U.S. Department of Labor. In 13 states the rate topped the national average of 10.2%, leaving many to wonder when the economic recovery that is reportedly underway will finally result in more jobs.

Overall joblessness rose in 29 states and the District of Columbia last month, while the rate fell in 13 states, according to the survey. In September, 23 states and Washington D.C. reported that their unemployment rates increased, and 14 states had jobless rates above the national average.
Michigan, home to the country's ailing auto industry, posted a 15.1% rate, the nation's highest. Other hard-hit states included Nevada (13%); Rhode Island (12.9%; California (12.5%); and South Carolina (12.1%). North Dakota had the lowest rate of unemployment at 4.2%.

There was some good news contained in Friday's Labor Department report, including for beleaguered Michigan, which gained 38,600 positions, more than any other state except Texas, which added 41,700 jobs. Other gainers included California, 25,700; Oklahoma, 8,800; District of Columbia, 5,400; and Montana, 3,200. Wyoming lost 2,600 jobs.

All States Have Lost Jobs

Every state recorded unemployment rates higher than a year ago and all have lost jobs during the last year. Since the recession began in December 2007, the number of unemployed has increased by 8.2 million and the unemployment rate has grown by 5.3 percentage points, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The nation's Western region recorded the highest regional unemployment rate at 10.8%, while the Northeast had the lowest, at 9%. The report noted that all four regions -- West, Midwest, South and Northeast -- registered significant rate increases during the last year.

News of a toughening job picture in many states came just days after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned that a weak labor market threatens economic recovery. "The best thing we can say about the labor market right now is that it may be getting worse more slowly," he said Monday during a speech at the Economic Club of New York.

Friday's report adds further evidence to analyst predictions that the economy will recovery slowly. The tepid rate of job creation also adds to concern about where the economy is headed, leaving many Americans to hold off on purchases just ahead of the all-important holiday shopping season -- at a time when the economy could use a few big spenders.
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