- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 19, 2009

In a reversal of earlier gains, more states lost jobs than added them in November, signaling that hiring is occurring only sporadically across the country.

Unemployment rates dropped in 36 states and the District of Columbia, but that trend appeared to reflect more people leaving the work force. Unemployed people who stop looking for jobs out of frustration aren’t counted in the labor force.

Friday’s Labor Department report underscored that employers have yet to ramp up hiring, and many Americans can’t find work. The number of people jobless for at least six months rose last month to 5.9 million, according to a separate report released earlier this month. The average length of unemployment exceeds 28 weeks, the longest on records dating to 1948.

It was the first time since April that more states’ unemployment rates fell than rose. But two states, South Carolina and Florida, saw joblessness reach its highest point in 25 years. And economists say most states’ unemployment rates will rise as the stimulus programs wind down and seasonal jobs taper off.

“Even though things are getting better, they’re not getting better fast enough to keep unemployment from rising in the next six to nine months,” said Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo & Co.

Mr. Vitner said he expects unemployment nationally and in most states to continue inching up before cresting in about nine months. He predicts it will be six more months before there are any consistent job gains.

In all, 19 states added jobs in November, down from 28 in October. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia suffered a net loss of jobs.

“Now that the economy is stabilizing, we’re seeing more people come back into the work force and looking for jobs,” Mr. Vitner said. “The net effect of that is to push unemployment up.”

Since November 2008, all 50 states have seen a net loss of jobs and a rise in their unemployment rates.

The figures for jobs and unemployment don’t always match because they come from separate reports. The unemployment rate is calculated from a survey of households. The jobs count reflects a survey of businesses.

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