Unemployment rates fell in 28 states in October while non-farm payroll employment increased in 34 states, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.
Illustrating the generally better trend compared with September, the states that have long held the highest and lowest jobless rates in the country each saw improvement last month.
Nevada, which has led the nation in unemployment nearly every month since early 2010, had a rate of 9.3%. That's a tenth of a percentage point below September's and a full percentage point lower than October 2012.
The Silver State is recovering slowly from the housing bust and recession. Construction jobs are still more than 60% off their pre-recession highs and even the much stronger leisure and hospitality sector remains 5.5% below its 2007 jobs peak.
North Dakota, its fortunes lifted by an energy boom, has enjoyed the nation's lowest unemployment rate since late 2008 and kept that distinction in October. At 2.7%, its jobless rate was a tenth of a point lower than September's and half a point lower than a year earlier.
The national jobless rate last month was 7.3%, up from 7.2% in September.
Friday's report showed 17 states had rates significantly below the U.S. average in October while nine states plus the District of Columbia had measurably higher rates. The district's unemployment rate jumped 0.3 percentage points to 8.9% in October, a month that included the federal government's partial shutdown for 16 days.
Florida led the U.S. with the largest monthly increase in employment, gaining 44,600 jobs. California followed with a gain of 39,800 jobs and North Carolina was third with 22,200.
The states with the most significant decreases in employment over the month were Kentucky, down 12,600; Washington, 8,100; and South Dakota, 2,600.
Over the year, Texas has led the nation in job gains with 267,400. California ranks second with 207,300 and Florida is third with 182,200.