State unemployment rates fall in March

The jobs picture is improving in many states around the country, with the Labor Department reporting Friday that unemployment rates fell in 21 states in March. Enlargephoto

David Goldman/Associated Press

The jobs picture is improving in many states around the country, with the Labor Department reporting Friday that unemployment rates fell in 21 states in March.

WASHINGTON – More than two-thirds of the states reported job gains in March, as hiring has improved for much of the country during what has been a sluggish but sustained 4½-year recovery.

The Labor Department said Friday unemployment rates dropped in 21 states, rose in 17 and were unchanged in the remaining 12. Meanwhile, hiring increased in 34 states and fell in 16.

The unemployment rate varies from as low as 2.6 percent in North Dakota to as much as 8.7 percent in Rhode Island. South Carolina has experienced the sharpest rate decline over 12 months to 5.5 percent from 8 percent.

Colorado’s unemployment rate for March was 6.2 percent, slightly up from the previous month’s 6.1 percent. But compared to March 2013, unemployment was down from 7 percent.

The rate nationwide stayed at 6.7 percent in March for the second straight month. That national rate stayed flat because someone was hired for almost every person who entered the job market last month.

Employers added 192,000 jobs nationwide in March, close to the average monthly gains of the past two years.

Ohio experienced the largest month-to-month drop in its unemployment rate: 0.4 percentage points to 6.1 percent. That steep drop occurred because the state added 12,000 jobs last month, while the total number of people in its job market fell 11,200 to 5.75 million.