WASHINGTON Jan 18 Michigan again recorded the highest unemployment rate in December, followed by Mississippi, but almost all states saw a spike in the measure, the Labor Department said Friday.
This is the ninth month in a row the Midwestern state posted the highest rate, which rose to 7.6 percent from 7.4 percent in November. Mississippi's rate was 6.8 percent, up from November's 6.3 percent. For the last year, the two states have had the topmost rates.
The rest of the country was not immune to job loss, as 46 states and the District of Columbia said their rates increased in December. Close to 20 states recorded rates higher than the national 5.0 percent, itself the greatest in two years.
At the same time, the number of jobs increased in 33 states and the District of Columbia in December, the department said, and decreased in 17.
Kansas lost the most jobs, 6,200, followed by South Carolina, 5,800.
While Texas and California experienced the largest gains, at 18,600 and 15,500 jobs respectively, the department noted three states -- Washington, Nebraska and Hawaii -- also saw "statistically significant" increases in payrolls.
Worried about a recession, some federal legislators have proposed providing more unemployment assistance to goose the economy. Others are weighing giving aid to the states.
Ray Scheppach, executive director of the National Governors Association, has said job losses can hurt states twice. First, they lose income tax revenue and then they must increase spending on unemployment benefits.
For a table on states' unemployment rates, click on [ID:nN18319038]
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama,)