Employment increased in 33 states last month and jobless rates fell in 29, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday.
California, Texas and Florida led the nation with the largest monthly increases in employment, gaining a total of 129,000 jobs among them. The same three also rank highest in job gains over the past 12 months -- California is up by 336,600; Texas, 314,200; Florida, 211,500.
Over the year, nonfarm payroll jobs are higher in 46 states and the District of Columbia and lower in four.
Unemployment rates were below February's 6.7% national average in 32 states. Rates rose in 10 states and held steady in 11 others and the District of Columbia.
Rhode Island had the highest unemployment rate at 9% and North Dakota, where an energy boom is in progress, is still the state with the lowest rate at 2.6%.
Other findings from the report:
• The largest over-the-year percentage increases in nonfarm jobs were in North Dakota, 4.1%; Nevada, 3.6% and Colorado, Florida, and Texas, all up 2.8%.
• The West continued to have the highest regional unemployment rate in February, 7.2%, while the South had the lowest rate, 6.1%.
• South Carolina's unemployment rate showed the largest percentage point decline compared with February 2013 — down 2.4 points to 5.7%. North Carolina was next, down 2.2 points to 6.4%.