Unemployment up in 43 states

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Published: January 22,2010

Tags: jobs, recession, unemployment

WASHINGTON — Unemployment rates rose in 43 states last month, the government said today, painting a bleak picture of the job market that illustrated nationwide data released two weeks ago.

The rise in joblessness was a sharp change from November, when 36 states said their unemployment rates fell. Four states — South Carolina, Delaware, Florida and North Carolina — reported record-high jobless rates in December.

New Jersey’s rate, meanwhile, rose to a 33-year high of 10.1 percent while New York’s reached a 26-year high of 9 percent.

Analysts said the report showed the economy is recovering at too weak a pace to generate consistent job creation.

“A lot of states that had started to add jobs (in November) gave up those gains in December,” said Sophia Koropeckyj, managing director at Moody’s Economy.com.

Texas and Georgia lost more jobs in December than they had gained the previous month, she noted, while Arizona and South Carolina lost nearly as many as they had gained.

That is consistent with nationwide trends. Employers shed a net total of 85,00 jobs in December, the government said earlier this month, after notching a small gain of 4,000 jobs in November.

In another nationwide trend, long-suffering states like California and Michigan saw their jobless rates stabilize even as they continued to bleed jobs. That’s because thousands of frustrated workers gave up hunting for work and dropped out of the labor force, which means they aren’t included in the unemployment rate.

California lost 38,800 jobs. But its unemployment rate was unchanged at 12.4 percent, the fifth-highest in the nation. That’s because 107,000 people, or 0.6 percent of the state’s workforce, gave up and stopped job-hunting.

Michigan shed 15,700 jobs, but 31,000 people left the labor force. That caused the state’s jobless rate to fall slightly, to 14.6 percent from 14.7 percent. Michigan has the nation’s highest unemployment rate.

Nationally, more than 600,000 people left the labor force in December, according to government data. The large exodus from the labor force indicates that “unemployment is a lot worse than the numbers suggest,” Koropeckyj said.

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