Employment Increased in 42 U.S. States

By Michelle Jamrisko

Payrolls grew in 42 U.S. states in February and the unemployment rate fell in 22, showing the labor market improved in a broad swath of the world’s largest economy.

Texas led with an 80,600 hiring increase, the biggest in data going back to 1982, followed by California with 41,200, according to figures from the Labor Department today in Washington. Rhode Island, Vermont, California and New Jersey showed the biggest declines in unemployment rates.

Employers hired 236,000 workers in February, almost twice the 119,000 increase a month earlier, figures from the Labor Department showed earlier this month. The figures help explain why consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, has been holding up in the face of a two percentage-point increase in the payroll tax.

“Labor market conditions continue to improve,” Russell Price, a senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. in Detroit, said before the report. “The consumer has shown a lot of resilience.” Price is the top forecaster of employment for the past two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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