WASHINGTON — Unemployment rates rose in a majority of states in August for a third straight month, further evidence that the depressed job market is widespread.
The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates increased in 26 states. They fell in 12 and remained unchanged in 12.
Nationwide, the economy added no new net jobs in August, and the unemployment rate stayed at 9.1 percent for the second straight month.
Many employers pulled back on hiring after the economy barely grew in the first half of the year. The economy added an average of just 39,500 jobs per month from May through August, down from an average of 178,500 jobs per month in the first four months of the year.
Nevada had the nation's highest unemployment rate among states for the 15th straight month. The rate there rose from 12.9 percent in July to 13.4 percent in August. The state has been hampered by foreclosures, a depressed construction industry and a decline in tourism.
California had the second-highest rate, at 12.1 percent, followed by Michigan, at 11.2 percent.
North Dakota had the nation's lowest unemployment rate, at 3.5 percent. That's up from 3.3 percent in July. Booming oil, agriculture and manufacturing industries have helped the state keep the lowest unemployment rate since November 2008.
It was followed by Nebraska (4.2 percent) and South Dakota (4.7 percent).
In August, 30 states and the District of Columbia reported job losses.
New York lost 22,700 net jobs to lead the nation. It was followed by Georgia, with 18,200 lost jobs, and the District of Columbia, with 12,500 fewer jobs. Both Georgia and D.C. saw big declines in government jobs.
Minnesota posted the biggest job gain in August: 28,400. But that was mainly because the state rehired workers who were temporarily laid off during the government's July shutdown.
North Carolina added 16,500 net jobs, the second highest. Arizona had 15,400 more jobs. Both states added public workers after governments shed thousands of employees.
But North Carolina's unemployment rate rose despite the gain in jobs. The unemployment rate can increase even if jobs are added because people are counted as unemployed only if they are actively looking for work.