- Associated Press - Friday, December 17, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unemployment rates rose in 21 states last month, the highest number to report an increase since August. The report is a reminder of the job market’s struggle to rebound even as the economy is improving.

The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates fell in 15 states in November and remained the same in 14 states. That’s the fewest to see a drop in unemployment since August.

Georgia and Idaho endured the largest increases in unemployment. Georgia’s rate rose to 10.1 percent from 9.8 percent. Idaho’s jumped to 9.4 percent from 9.1 percent.

Michigan and Pennsylvania saw the biggest declines in unemployment last month. Michigan’s rate fell to 12.4 percent from 12.8 percent. Pennsylvania’s declined to 8.6 percent from 8.8 percent.

Despite its decline, Michigan still has the nation’s second-highest unemployment rate. Nevada has the highest rate at 14.3 percent.

North Dakota reported the lowest rate, at 3.8 percent, in November. South Dakota and Nebraska have the next-lowest unemployment rates, at 4.5 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively.

The nationwide unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent from 9.6 percent in November, the department said earlier this month. Employers added a net total of only 39,000 jobs.

But many economists expect hiring to pick up in the coming months. Retail sales rose in November for the fifth straight month, factories are busier and fewer people are applying for first-time unemployment benefits.

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