WASHINGTON - Unemployment rates fell to record lows in four U.S. states last month after months of steady job creation nationwide.
The Labor Department says unemployment rates fell in 17 states in March and were mostly unchanged in 33. Employers added a significant number of jobs in just three states last month and cut them in four. Employment was mostly unchanged in the other 43 states. Hiring nationwide was weak in March but strong in the previous two months.
Maine, Arkansas, Colorado and Oregon reported the lowest unemployment rates since 1976. Colorado's rate, at 2.6 percent, was the nation's lowest. Maine's rate for March, seasonally adjusted, was 3.0 percent, according to the state Labor Department's website.
The unemployment rate in the four states fell because more residents found work. In some cases, the rate falls when those out of work stop looking and are no longer counted as unemployed.