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California tied with Rhode Island for highest jobless rate

March 18, 2013|By Don Lee
  • Job seekers attend a healthcare employment fair in New York.
Job seekers attend a healthcare employment fair in New York. (Mark Lennihan / Associated…)

WASHINGTON -- California's jobless rate was unchanged at 9.8% in January, and that lack of improvement put the Golden State in a tie with Rhode Island for the worst unemployment in the land.

On the other end of the spectrum, North Dakota had the lowest jobless rate, 3.3%, the government said Monday in releasing updated and revised employment data for all 50 states.

These statistics, based on more complete payroll information, show that California and other states in the western half of the country did much better in job growth over the last 12 months, powered by the energy sector, technology, trade with Asia and a rebounding housing market.

Texas led all states in payroll job growth between January 2012 and January 2013; it added 332,400 jobs, an increase of 3.1%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

California was second. Though little changed from December to January, California's payroll count grew by 286,100 positions, or 2%, over the 12-month period. (Payroll jobs exclude work by the self-employed and jobs such as unpaid family work.)

The Northeast region, by comparison, lagged behind, hurt by its relatively greater commercial links to Europe and by consolidation in financial services. Although the Northeast had a good January -- thanks partly to the rebuilding largesse after Superstorm Sandy -- its job tally in the month was up just 1.1% from a year ago. New York added 90,800 jobs over the year, an increase of 1.1%.

The pace of job growth in the Midwest is higher than in the Northeast but lower than in the West. The region has benefited from sturdy gains in manufacturing, particularly in the car industry.

For the U.S. as a whole, hiring accelerated in February, with employers adding 236,000 net new jobs compared with 119,000 in January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics previously reported. The national unemployment rate fell to 7.7% last month.

The state figures confirmed that job growth slowed in January. Unemployment rates increased in half of U.S. states from December, but only seven of these were statistically significant. Illinois and Mississippi each saw a jump of 0.4 of a percentage point in their jobless rates, to 9% and 9.3% respectively.

Though the jobless rate was higher in California than in 48 other states, the employment condition in California and other states in the West has improved more rapidly over the last year, reflecting the region's bigger hit during the recession and also relatively faster growth since it ended.

The unemployment rate for the Mountain and Pacific West fell to 8.6% in January from 9.7% a year ago. In same period, the jobless figure for the Northeast dropped just 0.2 of a percentage point, to 8.2% at the start of the year.

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