WASHINGTON (AP) — Employers significantly increased hiring in just three U.S. states last month, while five states reported large cuts.
The Labor Department said Tuesday that job totals were little changed in the other 42. Unemployment rates fell noticeably in 10 states and rose in just one.
The weak gains in most states partly reflect a downshift in hiring nationwide. Employers added 156,000 jobs last month, down from 204,000 in November, and the U.S. unemployment rate ticked up to 4.7 percent from 4.6 percent. In the final three months of last year, hiring averaged 165,000 a month, down from 282,000 a year earlier.
In all of last year, half the states reported large job gains, while only two — Wyoming and North Dakota — lost a significant number of positions.
Oregon reported the biggest gain in 2016, adding 3.3 percent more jobs. Florida followed, with a 3.1 percent gain, and Nevada and Washington both reported 3 percent increases.
California added the largest number of jobs, adding 332,500, followed by Florida with 251,400 and Texas with 210,200. Those increases partly reflect their larger populations.
Steady, if modest, hiring during the seven-year old recovery has pushed many states' unemployment rates to rock-bottom levels. New Hampshire has the nation's lowest rate, at 2.6 percent. Massachusetts and South Dakota follow at 2.8 percent each.
Alaska reported the nation's highest rate, at 6.7 percent. New Mexico has the second-highest, at 6.6 percent.