January saw employment decline in 27 states

Hiring accelerated in Feb. for 'moderate improvement'

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Washington reported a one-month gain of 3,800 jobs from December 2013 to January of this year, making it one of 23 states reporting a payroll increase. Oregon reported a one-month increase of 1,000 jobs.

Washington was one of 43 states reporting a drop in unemployment rates in January. Washington’s unemployment rate in January declined to 6.4 percent, down from 6.7 percent in December. The unemployment rate for the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metropolitan area in January was 5.2 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Oregon’s unemployment rate stood at 7 percent in January, down from 7.1 percent the previous month.

In a year-over-year analysis of employment numbers, Washington gained 53,500 jobs from January 2013 to January 2014. Oregon added 43,800 jobs in the same time period.

WASHINGTON — Payrolls decreased in 27 states in January, showing a slowdown in job growth extended throughout much of the country.

California led the nation with a 31,500 drop in payrolls for the month, followed by Illinois with a loss of 27,600 jobs, figures from the Labor Department showed Monday in Washington. At the same time, the unemployment rate fell throughout the country as 43 states posted decreases.

A report from the Labor Department this month showed hiring accelerated in February as the world's largest economy began to emerge from the winter chill that had curbed growth earlier in the year. Federal Reserve policymakers, who meet in Washington this week, are projected to trim their monthly bond buying to $55 billion from $65 billion with the employment situation on the mend.

"We continue to see moderate improvement," Sean Incremona, a senior economist at 4cast Inc. in New York, said before the report. Employment "is incrementally gathering momentum over this year and into next year."

State and local employment data are derived independently from the national statistics, which are usually released on the first Friday of every month. The state figures are subject to larger sampling errors because they come from smaller surveys, making the national figures more reliable, according to the government's

Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Payrolls picked up in February following a December and January slowdown, which many economists have attributed to unusually harsh winter weather. That means growth in state payrolls may be poised for a rebound in the next report. The United States added 175,000 jobs in February, a report showed, following gains of 129,000 in January and 84,000 in December.

The jobless rate edged up to 6.7 percent in February from a more than five-year low of 6.6 percent in January as the pace of hiring failed to keep up with the number of people entering the workforce, the Labor Department said.

Monday's figures showed Louisiana, Michigan and Tennessee were among the states with biggest declines in joblessness. The unemployment rate in Rhode Island, at 9.2 percent in January, was the highest in the country. North Dakota at 2.6 percent had the lowest.

Texas led the 23 states that showed payroll increases in January, showing a 33,900 advance. Ohio was second with a 16,700 gain.

Hiring may get a boost as demand strengthens across the country. Retail sales increased in February for the first time in three months, advancing 0.3 percent following a 0.6 percent drop in January that was larger than initially reported, the Commerce Department in Washington said last week.

Higher home prices and strong equity returns may be giving consumers the means to spend, having helped pushed household wealth up by $2.95 trillion in the fourth quarter to a record $80.7 trillion, according to data from the Fed. Cleveland, Ohio-based paint purveyor Sherwin Williams Co. is among those benefitting from increased buying of home improvement products.