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Sep 19, 11:16 AM EDT

Unemployment rates rise in nearly half of US states in August, though two-thirds gain jobs


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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Unemployment rates rose in nearly half of U.S. states in August, even as employers in two-thirds of the states added jobs.

The Labor Department says unemployment increased in 24 states, fell in 15 and was unchanged in 11. Hiring picked up in 35 states, while it fell in 15.

Unemployment rates can rise even when hiring increases if more people start looking for work and don't immediately find jobs. The state figures suggest hiring was broad-based across most regions of the country last month, even as nationwide job gains in August were the weakest this year.

Georgia's unemployment rate jumped to 8.1 percent from 7.7 percent in July to the highest among all the states. It was followed by Mississippi at 7.9 percent. That's the first time Georgia has had the highest rate since the Great Recession ended. Previously, Nevada, Michigan and Rhode Island have had the highest.

Georgia's rate rose even as its employers added the fourth-most jobs in the nation last month, gaining 15,800. The hiring and unemployment data can conflict because they come from two separate surveys. One is of households and the other survey covers businesses.

The national unemployment rate dipped to 6.1 percent in August, from 6.2 percent the previous month. Employers added 142,000 jobs, below an average of 212,000 in the previous 12 months.

North Dakota had the lowest rate in the nation, as it has for many years, at 2.8 percent. The state is benefiting from an oil and gas drilling boom. It was followed by three states with 3.6 percent unemployment: Nebraska, South Dakota and Utah.

The biggest job gains were in Texas, which added 46,600 jobs, followed by California, with 27,700 and Michigan, with 17,900.

The Midwest had the lowest unemployment rate among the nation's four regions, at 5.8 percent. The unemployment rate in the Northeast was 6.2 percent, followed by 6.3 percent in the South and 6.6 percent in the West.

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