WASHINGTON (AP) — Unemployment rates fell in half of U.S. states last month, led by drops in California, West Virginia, New York and Hawaii.
The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates rose in 17 states and were unchanged in eight.
Hiring has been steady nationwide, leading to a better job market in many areas of the country. Employers added jobs in 33 states last month. The biggest gains were in Ohio, Texas and Michigan.
The unemployment rate dipped in the Northeast to 7.5 percent from 7.6 percent, and fell in the West to 7.8 percent from 8 percent. It was flat in the Midwest at 7.2 percent and edged up in the South to 7.2 percent from 7.1 percent.
California and West Virginia had the largest declines in unemployment among all states. In California, the rate dropped to 8.6 percent from 9 percent in April. West Virginia's rate fell to 6.2 percent from 6.6 percent.
Both states reported job gains.
California has also seen the largest drop in unemployment among the states in the past 12 months. Its rate fell 2.1 percentage points from May 2012. Nevada's decline of 2 percent was the second largest.