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WASHINGTON, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Unemployment rates declined in almost all U.S. states in October from a year earlier, according to Labor Department data released on Tuesday, and the rates in more than half the states dropped from September.
Altogether, 42 states and the District of Columbia registered decreases from a year earlier, while eight said their rates rose. From the previous month, rates dropped in 37 states and rose in seven.
In October, employers across the country added thousands of jobs to their payrolls. While the national jobless rate inched up to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent in September, it was much lower than the high of 10 percent reached toward the end of the 2007-09 recession. September's rate was the lowest in more than three years.
That healing in the jobs market has proven uneven geographically, with some states still crippled by the bursting of the housing bubble, the financial crisis and the longest and deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression.
In October, 21 states had jobless rates higher than the national rate, almost all in the West and the South.
Nevada continued to have the highest unemployment rate among the states, at 11.5 percent, although it was lower than September's 11.8 percent. Rhode Island and California followed, with rates at 10.4 percent and 10.1 percent.
North Dakota held the lowest rate, at 3.1 percent, as it had throughout the recession thanks to a booming energy sector.
The labor department said nonfarm payrolls rose in 35 states and the District of Columbia and shrank in 15 states. California had the largest increase, with 45,800 jobs, followed by Texas and Georgia. Michigan shed the most jobs, down 16,500.
For a table on U.S. state unemployment rates in October click on