WASHINGTON (AP) – Most U.S. states reported jobs losses in September as slowing growth weighed on hiring nationwide but Texas reported the nation’s biggest gain, adding 26,600 jobs.
The Labor Department said Tuesday that hiring increased in just 20 states last month, the fewest since March. Twenty-seven states lost jobs and three reported no change.
Still, unemployment rates fell in 37 states and rose in just seven. Six states said their unemployment rates were unchanged.
Total U.S. hiring faltered in August and September as manufacturers struggled with the impact of the strong dollar and weak growth overseas. At the same time, U.S. consumers have spent cautiously. Growth likely slowed sharply in the July-September quarter to an annual rate of about 1.3 percent, from a 3.9 percent pace in the second quarter.
Missouri lost 16,500 jobs in September, the most of any state, followed by Pennsylvania, which reported a drop of 16,400. Missouri said most of the job losses occurred in local government. In Pennsylvania, they occurred mostly in health care, education and local government.
Michigan shed 9,800 jobs, the third largest-decline, followed by Hawaii, where jobs fell 8,100.
Texas’ nation’s-best job gains occurred in a range of industries, including retail, shipping, education, health care, and hotels and restaurants. New York added the second-most jobs with 12,000.
Many states with job losses also said their unemployment rates fell. That can occur if some unemployed stop looking for work, perhaps out of discouragement or because they return to school or stay home with family.
In Pennsylvania, the state with the second-largest decline in jobs, the number of people looking for work also fell. Its unemployment rate slipped to 5.3 percent from 5.4 percent.
In the past 12 months, only four states have lost jobs. All have significant oil drilling operations or coal mining industries. They have taken a hit as prices for oil and coal have deteriorated.
West Virginia has lost 11,400 jobs in the past year, the most of any state. It also has the nation’s highest unemployment rate, at 7.3 percent. North Dakota has shed 7,300 in the past year, yet it still boasts the lowest unemployment rate, at 2.8 percent. Alaska and Wyoming reported small jobs losses in the past 12 months.