POSTED: Friday, May 20, 2011 - 5:37pm
UPDATED: Sunday, May 22, 2011 - 5:37pm
WASHINGTON — Unemployment rates fell last month in more than three-quarters of the nation's states, adding to evidence that companies are feeling more confident in the U.S. economy.
The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates dropped in 39 states in April. It's the largest number of states to see decrease since November 2003. Rates rose in three states and the District of Columbia. They were unchanged in eight states.
Employers added workers in 42 states, the best showing since March 2007 — nine months before the recession started. Only eight states and the District of Columbia lost jobs last month.
Nationally, businesses have added more than 250,000 jobs per month, on average, in the past three months. It's the fastest hiring spree in five years. The unemployment rate has dropped nearly a full percentage point since November. Still, it remains very high at 9 percent.
New York added 45,700 jobs in April, the most of any state. It was followed by Texas, which added 32,900 jobs, and Pennsylvania, which gained 23,700 jobs.
Michigan lost 10,200 jobs, the largest decline of any state. Minnesota lost 5,200 jobs and South Carolina shed 3,800 jobs.
Nevada reported the biggest monthly drop in unemployment among all states. Despite the decline, unemployment in Nevada was 12.5 percent, the highest in the nation. New Mexico and Oklahoma reported the next biggest monthly decreases.
North Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate of any state at 3.3 percent. It has benefited from oil production, which is among the state's top industries.
Other states with low unemployment rates were Nebraska, New Hampshire and South Dakota.
By region, the Northeast had the lowest unemployment rate at 8 percent. The Midwest's unemployment rate was 8.1 percent, followed by the South, 8.8 percent, and then the West, 10.4 percent.
The West region includes California and Nevada, two of the states hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis.