Fresh statistics last week showed that more than half of U.S. states saw the number of jobless workers rise in August compared to July -- yet more evidence that the nation's stagnant employment picture remains stuck in neutral.
Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia reported unemployment rate increases, while 12 states recorded rate decreases, the U.S. Department of Labor reported. The remainder saw their rates unchanged.
Among the states with the highest jobless rates, Nevada topped the list in August with a rate of 13.4 percent, or about 176,000 people. It was also the third consecutive month the number of unemployed rose in the state.
The latest report is further evidence the labor market isn't improving as many had hoped when the rate began decreasing at the start of the year, said Bill Anderson, chief economist at the state's labor department, according to the Nevada Appeal newspaper.
The battered construction industry remains a major contributor to the state's "economic stalemate," Anderson said.
California, which like Nevada has been hit hard by the implosion of the housing market, had the nation's second highest jobless rate for the month -- 12.2 percent, or roughly 2.2 million people.
Mimicking a trend in Nevada and elsewhere, employers in the Golden State have added jobs this year -- nearly 100,000 of them, in fact. But most of those came early in the year. California employers have added just 11,000 jobs since March, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Despite a revival in Midwest manufacturing, finding a job in Michigan remains tough for many of the state's residents. In August, the jobless rate rose 0.3 percentage points to 11.2 percent compared to July. And more than half a million Michiganders are unemployed.
Two Southern states -- South Carolina and Florida -- round out the top five states with the highest unemployment rates. South Carolina's rate stood at 11.1 percent in August, up from July and also slightly higher than a year ago, bucking a trend last month that saw most states report jobless rates lower than in August 2010.
Florida, meanwhile, reported its rate held steady at 11 percent, slightly better than a year ago. Still, about 1 million Floridians are without work. The state added nearly 10,000 jobs last month. But not enough to make a dent in the jobless number.
A troubled housing market, government cutbacks and a slowdown in manufacturing are all contributing to overall pessimism among a group of economists statewide, the St. Petersburg Times reports.
Though job creation in the Sunshine State seemed a bit better than much of the country amid the summer slowdown, the job gain numbers are somewhat inflated, Mark Vitner, senior economist with Wells Fargo Securities told the newspaper.
That's because of the number of people who are working two or three part-time jobs, Vitner said, since each one is counted as a separate job in the official count.
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