Some U.S. states find recovery hope in jobs data

By Lisa Lambert

WASHINGTON, April 16 (BestGrowthStock) – Unemployment rates
continued to fall in March in many U.S. states, the Labor
Department said on Friday, sparking cautious optimism that an
economic recovery is dawning.

Five states saw their jobless rates decrease from the year
before, and one state had no change, the Labor Department said.
In February, four states registered a year-over-year drop.

At the same time, 17 states and the District of Columbia
registered rate decreases over the month, and nine states had
no monthly change.

Michigan again had the highest unemployment rate but it
held steady at 14.1 percent in March versus February.

“The overall trend for Michigan’s labor market three months
into 2010 is a stable jobless rate and moderating job losses,”
said Rick Waclawek, director of Michigan’s Bureau of Labor
Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, in a statement.

North Carolina, which had a jobless rate of 11.1 percent in
March, down from 11.2 percent in February, gained 3,300 jobs in
the month, mostly in leisure and hospitality.

“We need to see a more consistent pattern of growth in our
job sectors in the coming months before we can be sure this is
a sign of sustained growth,” said the chairman of the state’s
employment commission, Lynn Holmes, in a statement.

Many states attributed jobless rate increases to more
people looking for work.

According to the Labor Department, nonfarm payroll
employment increased in 33 states and the District of Columbia
and decreased in 17 states. Maryland had the largest monthly
gain of 35,800 jobs, which shows that “our economy is beginning
to turn in a positive direction,” said Governor Martin O’Malley
in a statement.

In Illinois, the unemployment rate hit its highest since
July 1983, and yet the state also added 3,000 jobs in March,
its third consecutive month of growth.

That is creating “cautious optimism that the effects of
this national recession might be softening,” the state’s
employment director, Maureen O’Donnell, said in a statement.

“As jobs are created, people become more encouraged about
their ability to find a job and therefore reenter the
workforce,” she added.

In the same light, Georgia hit a record high jobless rate
of 10.6 percent but layoffs in the state are slowing and
payrolls grew by 10,500 jobs in March, suggesting that a
“fledgling recovery may be gaining traction,” said State Labor
Commissioner Michael Thurmond.

Still, the states slammed by the collapse of the housing
market have yet to see health return to their job markets.
California, Florida and Nevada all broke past the record highs
in their jobless rates set earlier this year.

“Not all regions of the country are out of recession yet,
but those areas still in decline are doing so more slowly, and
recovery is evident across most of the Midwest, Gulf Coast and
Southeast,” said Moody’s Managing Director Steven
Cochrane this week.

Cochrane attributed the slow turnarounds to stability in
the health and education sectors and growth in manufacturing.

Stock Market Trading
(Additional reporting by Michael Connor in Miami and Karen
Pierog in Chicago; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Some U.S. states find recovery hope in jobs data