WASHINGTON – Unemployment rose in 30 states in January, the Labor Department said Wednesday, evidence that jobs remain scarce in most regions of the country.
The data is somewhat better than December, when 43 states reported higher unemployment rates, but worse than November, when rates fell in most states.
Still, five states reported record-high joblessness in January: California, at 12.5 percent; South Carolina, 12.6 percent; Florida, 11.9 percent; North Carolina, 11.1 percent; and Georgia, 10.4 percent.
Michigan's unemployment rate is still the nation's highest, at 14.3 percent, followed by Nevada, with 13 percent and Rhode Island at 12.7 percent. South Carolina and California round out the top five.
There were some signs of job creation. Thirty-one states added jobs in January, up from only 11 in the previous month. But the job gains weren't enough, in many cases, to lower the unemployment rate.
For example, California reported the largest job gains, of 32,500, though its unemployment rate also rose. Illinois, New York, Washington state and Minnesota reported the next highest totals of new jobs.
The lowest unemployment rates are still found in upper Plains states, with North Dakota's jobless rate of 4.2 percent the lowest in the nation. Nebraska and South Dakota had the next lowest rates, at 4.6 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively.
In January, the national unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent from 10 percent the previous month. Last week, the Labor Department said the national rate was unchanged in February at 9.7 percent, a better reading than most analysts expected.
State unemployment data for February won't be released until later this month.