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Payrolls Climb in 35 U.S. States, Led by California, Texas

Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Payrolls increased in 35 states in October, while the unemployment rate dropped in 37, showing much of the U.S. labor market is gaining traction.

California led the nation with a 45,800 advance in employment, followed by Texas with 36,600 more jobs, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington. The jobless rate dropped the most in South Carolina, Alaska and Wisconsin.

National employment figures indicate the labor market has regained strength after stumbling in the middle of the year, with the jobless rate falling below 8 percent for the first time since 2009. Future hiring gains may be limited as companies wait to see whether the more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts slated for the start of 2013 take effect.

“There’s been a little bit stronger payroll growth because there’s been a little bit stronger economic growth,” George Mokrzan, director of economics for Huntington National Bank in Columbus, Ohio, said before the report. “As long as we don’t go over the fiscal cliff, the economy will continue to expand at a moderate pace, which means continued modest payroll gains.”

Unemployment in Nevada continued to top the nation even as its jobless rate dropped in October to a three-year low of 11.5 percent from 11.8 percent the prior month. Rhode Island was second, with a rate of 10.4 percent, followed by California at 10.1 percent.

Lowest Joblessness

North Dakota had the lowest unemployment in the nation, with a 3.1 percent rate.

South Carolina, Alaska and Wisconsin led the states with the biggest deceases in joblessness, today’s report showed.

States showing the biggest declines in payrolls last month included Michigan and New Jersey.

State and local employment data are derived independently from the national statistics, which are typically released on the first Friday of every month. The state figures are subject to larger sampling errors because they come from smaller surveys, making the national figures more reliable, according to the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In October, payrolls expanded nationwide by 171,000 workers after a 148,000 gain in September that was larger than first estimated, a report showed Nov. 2. Private payrolls rose by 184,000, the most since February.

Unemployment Nationally

The jobless rate increased to 7.9 percent last month as more people began looking for work. The unemployment rate held below 8 percent in October and September, snapping the preceding 43-month stretch of 8 percent-or-higher joblessness.

At the same time, increases in payrolls so far this year have averaged 157,000 a month, showing little acceleration from the 153,000 average in 2011.

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart said Nov. 16 that forceful central bank policies will remain needed to spur job growth even if Congress averts the so-called fiscal cliff of tax increases and spending cuts scheduled for next year unless lawmakers act.

“I expect that continued aggressive use of balance sheet monetary tools will be appropriate and justified by economic conditions for some time even if fiscal cliff issues are properly addressed,” Lockhart said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Kowalski in Washington at akowalski13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net

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