Unemployment rates fell in 22 U.S. states in February from January, a sign that hiring gains are benefiting many parts of the country, says a story from the Associated Press.
Mississippi’s rate remains stubbornly high, rising to 9.6 in February to atop the national average. Neighboring Alabama’s rate had been in decline until February, when it from 6.9 in January to 7.2 in February.
The U.S. Labor Department says unemployment rates rose in 12 states and were unchanged in 16.
Nationally, unemployment slid to a four-year low of 7.7 percent in February, down from 7.9 percent in January. Since November, employers have added an average of 200,000 jobs a month, nearly double the average from last spring.
States hit hardest during the recession are showing improvement.
Florida’s unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent in February, down from 9 percent a year earlier. Nevada’s rate, while tied with California and Mississippi for the highest among states at 9.6 percent, is down from 11.8 percent a year ago.