newsThe U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that unemployment rates, both regional and state, continued a downward trend during January 2012. Of the 51 states plus D.C., 46 posted rate decreases, four states were unchanged, and only New York recorded a rate increase. During the period between January 2011 and January 2012, 48 states plus D.C. reported unemployment rate decreases, Illinois experienced no change, and New York recorded a rate increase. The January national unemployment rate of 8.3 percent was 0.8 percent lower than a year earlier.

Nonfarm employment rose in 37 states and fell in 24 states plus D.C., while one state remained the same. Texas experienced the greatest increase during the month reporting over 67,000 new employees over December 2011. New York and Ohio followed Texas with 44,600 and 32,800 new employees, respectively. The largest overall decreases for the month were reported in Florida (-38,600), Pennsylvania (-9000), and Washington, D.C. (-6,100). The state reporting the highest increase in employment rate was New Hampshire, gaining 1 percentage points. The largest decrease in employment occurred in D.C. which fell by 0.8 percent. Over-the-year employment increases were greatest in North Dakota (5.7 percent) and Texas and Utah (2.5 percent). Over-the-year employment decreases were led by Wisconsin (-0.5 percent), Alaska, Mississippi, and Rhode Island (all -0.3 percent).

Regional unemployment rates were highest in the West during January, recording a rate increase of 9.6 percent. The region with the lowest unemployment rate was the Midwest at 7.7 percent. All regions experienced significant over-the-year decreases: the West (-1.1 percent), the Midwest (-0.9 percent), South (-0.8 percent), and the Northeast (-0.4 percent).

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