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Unemployment rates fall in 29 US states last month

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Unemployment rates fell in most states in February and two-thirds of the states reported job gains, evidence that most of the country is benefiting from slow but steady improvement in the job market.

The Labor Department says unemployment rates dropped in 29 states, rose in 10 and was unchanged in the remaining 11. Meanwhile, hiring rose in 33 states and fell in 17.

The rate declines occurred even though unemployment rose nationwide, to 6.7 percent from 6.6 percent. That increase occurred partly for a good reason: more Americans began looking for work, though most weren't immediately hired. But the fact that they started looking suggests they were optimistic about their prospects.

Employers added 175,000 jobs nationwide in February, close to the average monthly gains of the past two years.

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