WASHINGTON - Michigan again had the highest unemployment rate of all U.S. states in September at 15.3 percent, followed by Nevada and Rhode Island, which set records, the Labor Department said on Wednesday.
Nevada, at 13.3 percent, and Rhode Island, at 13 percent, were followed by California, at 12.2 percent. Florida also hit its highest rate since records began 33 years ago, 11 percent.
Fifteen states and Puerto Rico now have unemployment rates above 10 percent -- meaning more than one person in 10 looking for a job is not working there.
Still, the Labor Department said, unemployment rates were little changed on the month in most states, and 19 states saw their rates drop.
The federal car-buying incentive program known as cash for clunkers helped slow the exodus of work in Michigan, which is the heart of American automobile manufacturing, said the state's employment department.
Manufacturing jobs have increased in the state for three consecutive months, according to the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth, while the monthly increases in the state's unemployment rate have shrunk.
Still, the workforce picture was not as rosy in terms of jobs numbers in a majority of states.
Nonfarm payroll employment decreased in 43 states and the District of Columbia in September. Only seven states gained jobs, and the largest increase of 4,400 in Indiana was small when compared to the biggest drop of 81,700 in New York.
Texas shed 44,700 positions, California 39,300, Wisconsin 21,700 and Michigan 21,500. The nation's capital, Washington, D.C., experienced the largest percentage drop, 1.4 percent.
Since September 2008, all states and the District of Columbia have lost jobs, with California shedding the most, 732,700.
In Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota and California, the unemployment rate dropped from August, but so did the number of jobs.
While Wisconsin found encouragement in its jobless rate falling to 7.7 percent in the state's 4th monthly decrease, Ohio read a different story in the discrepancy.
Ohio's unemployment rate declined in September as more Ohioans dropped out of the labor force, said Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Douglas Lumpkin, about the decline to 10.1 percent from 10.8 percent in August.
Laid-off workers can become so discouraged about the prospects of new jobs that they give up looking and are not counted as part of the labor force. At the same time, with the downturn in housing and automobile manufacturing, analysts have begun to worry about structural unemployment creeping into the U.S. economy. For a related story, please see [ID:nN06415582].
The unemployment rate increased the most in any state in Illinois, to 10.5 percent, the highest since October 1983.
Illinois lost 14,200 jobs, marking the 20th month in a row that payrolls in the state have shrunk, resulting in the smallest number of jobs in the state in 14 years. (Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by James Dalgleish)