Jobless rates increased in half of US states in January, reflecting slower hiring

WASHINGTON – Unemployment rates increased in half of U.S. states in January from December, as employers nationwide added the fewest jobs in seven months.

The Labor Department says unemployment rates increased in 25 states. They fell in only 8 states and were unchanged in 17.

Nationally, the unemployment rate ticked up in January to 7.9 per cent from 7.8 per cent in December. Employers added only 119,000 jobs, down from 219,000 in December.

Job gains have since accelerated. Employers added 236,000 jobs in February, and the national unemployment rate fell to a four-year low of 7.7 per cent.

In January, California and Rhode Island reported the highest state unemployment rates, at 9.8 per cent. The lowest was North Dakota at 3.3 per cent. The state has benefited from an oil and gas boom.