Employers add jobs in 30 states, including Ohio, in January

Employers stepped up hiring in 30 states in January including Ohio, albeit a small gain, while 20 states shed jobs.

THE NUMBERS: The unemployment rate fell in 28 states, rose in 8, including Ohio, and was unchanged in 14. The unemployment rate doesn’t always decline even when more hiring occurs, because more Americans may start job hunting and push up the rate even as others are hired.

Florida added the most jobs of any state, gaining 32,200. That was followed by Texas with 31,400 and North Carolina with 23,200. Florida’s biggest employment gains occurred in restaurants, hotels and amusement parks.

Ohio’s unemployment rate rose to 4.9 percent in January from 4.8 percent in the previous month, adding only 100 jobs.

Jobless rates across Ohio are at their lowest levels in more than a decade, with the state unemployment rate hitting a 14-year low of 4.4 percent in October.

Still, while Ohio’s improving economy has added more than 82,000 jobs over the past year, jobless rates have come down largely as a result of a shrinking labor force, not job growth.

Pennsylvania lost 16,100 jobs, the most of any state. New Jersey shed 14,100, and in South Carolina, total jobs fell 10,100.

BIG PICTURE: Fewer states gained jobs in January as hiring slowed a bit nationwide. Overall, employers added 172,000 jobs in January, below the average pace of hiring last year. Hiring nationally picked up in February, to 242,000, and the unemployment rate remained at an eight-year low of 4.9 percent.

The nation’s job market is generally improving, though many Americans are no longer working or looking for work, and wage growth remains tepid.

THE TAKEAWAY: Slower growth overseas and the strong dollar may have lowered hiring in January. The financial markets also fell sharply that month as fears of a global recession intensified.

The U.S. economy, however, has remained healthy despite those challenges. Consumer spending rose at the fastest pace in eight months in January, as more Americans have paychecks to spend.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta forecasts the economy will expand at a modest 2.2 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter, up from a sluggish 1 percent increase in the final three months of last year.

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