Payrolls climbed in 35 states in August, while the unemployment rate rose in 24, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. California led the nation with a 44,200 increase in payrolls, followed by Florida with 22,700 more jobs. While national payroll gains slowed in August compared to the previous six months, labor market indicators have shown signs of strength as an improving economy boosts demand for workers. More job growth will be needed to spur wage increases and lift consumer spending, which accounts for over two-thirds of the economy.
The unemployment rate rose the most in South Carolina, Georgia and Vermont. Kentucky and Michigan were among those seeing statistically significant declines in joblessness. Georgia had the highest jobless rate in the country at 8.1 percent. North Dakota had the lowest at 2.8 percent in August.
The data on state jobs showed that payrolls climbed 142,000 in August after six straight months of gains above 200,000. The jobless rate fell to 6.1 percent from 6.2 percent as more people left the labor force.
Federal Reserve policy makers are debating how much longer to keep interest rates near zero as they approach their goals for full employment and stable prices. At a meeting that concluded Sept. 17, central bank officials tapered monthly bond buying to $15 billion in their seventh consecutive $10 billion cut, staying on course to end the program in October.