WASHINGTON - Unemployment rates fell in 23 U.S. states in April as hiring rebounded nationwide from weak job gains the previous month.
The Labor Department said Wednesday that 11 states reported a higher unemployment rate than in March, while 16 states saw no change. Forty states gained jobs, and 9 states posted job losses.
The drag from lower oil prices that has triggered sharp cutbacks in oil drilling was evident in some states. Texas added just 1,200 jobs, far below its average monthly gain of 34,000 last year. Wyoming lost jobs, while North Dakota reported a small gain.
Nationwide, employers added a healthy 223,000 jobs in April, lowering the unemployment rate to a seven-year low of 5.4 per cent. That represented a reassuring bounce back after the economy generated just 85,000 jobs in March.
Nebraska reported the lowest unemployment rate at 2.5 per cent, followed by North Dakota at 3.1 per cent. North Dakota had boasted the lowest rate for nearly every month since the Great Recession, but the figure has climbed from 2.7 per cent a year earlier in part because of layoffs by oil drillers.
Nevada had the highest unemployment rate at 7.1 per cent, followed by West Virginia at 7 per cent.