WASHINGTON (AP) - Unemployment rates were significantly lower in five states in April, led by a big drop in Kentucky.
The Labor Department says Kentucky saw its unemployment rate fall to 5.3 percent in April, down from 5.6 percent in March. The state with the largest increase was Pennsylvania, which saw the unemployment rate rise to 5.3 percent from 4.9 percent in April. Pennsylvania was one of four states with significantly higher jobless rates in April.
The national jobless rate was unchanged in April at 5 percent. Employers added 160,000 jobs, well below the average gain of 243,000 over the prior six months.
Over the past year, 37 states have added an appreciable number of jobs. Two states have lost jobs, and 11 states have seen job levels essentially unchanged.
In addition to Kentucky, the other four states judged to have significantly lower unemployment rates in April were Arkansas, Delaware, Kansas and Vermont. In addition to Pennsylvania, the states with significantly higher rates were New Jersey, Wyoming and Utah. The other 41 states were seen as having stable unemployment rates from March to April.
For April, the states with the lowest jobless rates were South Dakota at 2.5 percent and New Hampshire at 2.6 percent. Alaska and Illinois had the highest rates, both at 6.6 percent.
Over the past year, the states with the biggest gains in payroll employment were California, up 450,200; Florida, up 254,500 and Texas, with a gain of 189,600 jobs.
The two states with significant job declines over the past year were North Dakota, with a drop of 17,600, and Wyoming, with a decline of 10,800. Both states have been hurt by cutbacks in the energy industry due to falling prices.
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