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March unemployment was highest in Western U.S., lowest in Midwest

April 20, 2012|By Jim Puzzanghera
  • The Tencent America job booth at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco in March.
The Tencent America job booth at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco… (Paul Sakuma / Associated…)

WASHINGTON -- The West was not the best if you were looking for work last month. That distinction belonged to the nation's heartland.

Double-digit unemployment rates in California and Nevada -- two of the states hardest hit by the housing market collapse -- once again gave the Western U.S. the highest regional unemployment rate in March, according to government data released Friday.

The region, which also includes Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington, had a 9.6% unemployment rate last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. The West has had the highest regional jobless rate since early 2008.

The Midwest unemployment rate was 7.4% in March, the fifth straight month it has had or tied for the nation's lowest rate.

Nationwide, the unemployment rate in March was 8.2%.

Employers added 18,200 net jobs in California last month, and the state's unemployment rate ticked up to 11% from 10.9%. That figure was the third-highest in the nation, behind only Nevada's 12% rate and Rhode Island's 11.1%.

But the jobs situation in the West is slowly improving, as it has been across the country. The region's rate was 10.5% in March 2011.

Two Midwestern states had the lowest unemployment rates in the nation last month -- North Dakota at 3% and Nebraska at 4%.

Overall, 30 states saw their unemployment rates drop in March, while eight had increases and 12 others, along with the District of Columbia, recorded no change. Only New York had a higher unemployment rate last month than it did a year before.


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California adds 18,200 jobs in March; unemployment rises to 11%

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