National Journal

After years of strong job growth, North Dakota is now the only state in the U.S. to have seen a significant increase in its unemployment rate in the past year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest Regional and State Employment and Unemployment report released Wednesday.

The numbers showed that North Dakota's unemployment rate increased by 0.4 percentage points since April 2014. The earlier growth was fueled by an oil boom, but the significant drop in oil prices over the past year has caused the state to shed jobs in energy.

A report from Pew Charitable Trusts found that employment jumped 28 percent in the state from April 2009, its worst month for unemployment. North Dakota's unemployment rate of 3.1 percent still is far lower than the national unemployment rate of 5.4 percent.

The state with the largest over-the-year nonfarm employment increase, according to BLS, was Utah, which saw a 4-percentage point increase, translating to 52,800 jobs added. This is in line with the longer-term trend in the state, which shows Utah's employment growing 15 percent since February 2010.

Utah was followed by Florida and Washington State, both of which saw a 3.6-percentage point increase over the past year. Florida also had the third largest increase in jobs for the past month, with 24,500 jobs added. It surpassed New York as the third-most populous state, according to a Census report released late last year.

California, the nation's most populous state, saw both the biggest increase in jobs with 29,500 in the past month and the largest over-the-year job increase at 457,300 jobs, bringing its unemployment rate down from 7.8 percent to 6.3 percent.

The largest unemployment rate decline in the past year came from Michigan, which the Pew report showed had fallen further than any other state during the Great Recession in terms of job losses. But in the past year, the state saw its unemployment rate drop 2.1 percentage points.

Nebraska enjoys the lowest unemployment rate in the country, at 2.5 percent, and Nevada has the highest at 7.1 percent.

But while nonfarm employment increased in 49 states and Washington, D.C., it decreased in West Virginia by 0.7 percent. The Pew Report showed that West Virginia was one of two states, alongside Maine, that have seen the least growth since the Great Recession.

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