WASHINGTON Dec 21 (Reuters) - Unemployment rates continued to drift downward in November in almost all U.S. states, even those hit hardest by superstorm Sandy, according to Labor Department data released on Friday.
Altogether, jobless rates dropped from a month before in 45 states and the District of Columbia and were unchanged in the remaining five states. In 43 states, rates were lower than a year before and in six were higher.
Nevada continued to hold the highest jobless rate in the country, 10.8 percent, but that was significantly lower than the 11.5 percent rate in October and 13.2 percent rate in November 2011. Rhode Island followed at 10.4 percent.
North Dakota, on the other hand, continued to register the lowest jobless rate, 3.1 percent, the same as the prior month and slightly lower than 3.4 percent in November 2011.
Most states saw their unemployment rates drop over the course of 2012, but the rate of decline is slowing. Only 23 states saw "statistically significant over-the-month unemployment rate decreases in November," the Labor Department said. The remaining states' drops were so small that their jobless rates "were not measurably different from those of a month earlier."
In terms of jobs, North Carolina gained the most with 30,600, followed by Florida at 24,500, and Texas, 22,100. Meanwhile, New York lost 33,500 jobs, the most of all states, followed by Indiana, 9,100, and New Jersey, 8,100.
Since November 2011, 45 states gained jobs while five and the District of Columbia shed jobs.