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Jobless Rate Rises In Nearly Every State

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Jobless Rate Rises In Nearly Every State

Economy

Jobless Rate Rises In Nearly Every State

Jobless Rate Rises In Nearly Every State

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics says nearly every state saw its unemployment rate rise in January. Michigan and South Carolina have unemployment rates of more than 10 percent. However, the health of state labor markets varies a lot. For instance: Wyoming, which benefited from an earlier run up in prices for oil and natural gas prices, registered the lowest unemployment rate at 3.7 percent.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Now, let's look at a consequence of economic turmoil. Every month, the Labor Department provides a state-by-state breakdown of unemployment, and in January the jobless rate rose in every state except one. The state with the lowest rate is Wyoming. Those with the highest: South Carolina and Michigan.

NPR's Frank Langfitt has more.

FRANK LANGFITT: No state saw a bigger jump in its unemployment rate than South Carolina. It leapt 1.6 percent from December. Robert Brown heads the state's Labor Market Information Division. He says South Carolina is particularly vulnerable to the recession because its labor market is in flux.

Mr. ROBERT BROWN (South Carolina Labor Market Information Division): We have been in a transitional mode from manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy. And I think a lot of the other Southern states have as well.

LANGFITT: For instance, South Carolina continues to bleed old economy textile jobs to lower wage countries. But it can no longer count on newer knowledge jobs, like those in finance, to offset those losses. Brown says the decline in finance has even hit South Carolinians who work in a banking hub across the border in North Carolina.

Mr. BROWN: We have a lot of folks in the upper part of our state, in the Rock Hill area, that commute into Charlotte everyday. So what happens then a bordering state often impacts our economy as well.

LANGFITT: At 10.4 percent, South Carolina had the nation's second highest unemployment rate. Wyoming had the lowest at 3.7. Wyoming's rich in coal and oil, and earlier it benefitted from a run-up in commodity prices. But oil is now trading around $45 a barrel. And while Wyoming's unemployment rate is still very low, it's up 1 percent from a year ago.

Frank Langfitt, NPR News, Washington.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: You can see a map of the unemployment for your state at npr.org.

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