Nationwide, the rate remained at 7.8 percent in December. Employers added 155,000 jobs last month, nearly matching the average of 153,000 in 2012 and 2011. That’s just enough to slowly reduce the unemployment rate, which declined 0.7 percentage points nationwide last year.
Employers added jobs in 27 states, the department said, while they cut jobs in 23 states. The job totals come from a survey of employers, while the unemployment rate is calculated from a separate survey of households.
New York and New Jersey reported the biggest job gains last month, likely reflecting a bounce back from Superstorm Sandy, which caused job losses in both states in November. New York gained nearly 9,000 construction jobs, while New Jersey added 4,200.
That’s nearly half the 30,000 construction jobs created last month nationwide, the biggest increase in 15 months.
Still, New Jersey now has the nation’s fourth-highest unemployment rate, at 9.6 percent. That’s down slightly from the previous month but a half-point higher than a year ago.
North Dakota reported the nation’s lowest unemployment rate, at 3.2 percent. Nebraska had the second-lowest rate, at 3.7 percent, followed by South Dakota at 4.4 percent.