WASHINGTON (AP) -- A majority of states saw their unemployment rates drop in May. But the widespread declines were mainly because people gave up looking for work and were no longer counted.
The unemployment rate fell in 37 states and the District of Columbia, the Labor Department said Friday. Six states had increases and seven experienced no change.
Forty-one states and the District of Columbia saw a net increase in jobs. But that reflected national data showing a huge gain because of government hiring of temporary census workers.
Nevada now has the highest jobless rate in the country, marking the first time in more than four years that Michigan did not hold that distinction. Nevada's rate climbed to 14 percent. Michigan's fell to 13.6 percent.
Nationally, the unemployment rate dipped to 9.7 percent in May from 9.9 percent in April. But the drop was largely because hundreds of thousands of jobless people stopped searching for work.
A total of 431,000 new jobs were added across the country in May, the biggest gain in a decade. Still, the surge came from 411,000 temporary census jobs. Private-sector job growth slowed significantly.
Big states led all others in job growth. Texas saw a net gain of 43,600 jobs, California was up 28,300 and New York rose by 21,000.
Nevada's jobless rate rose from 13.7 percent in April. That state has been hurt by the collapse in housing and a downturn in tourism.
"Tourism is always one of the areas hardest hit during a recession," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's in New York.
Unemployment in Michigan, a state hurt by the troubles in the auto industry, fell from 14 percent in April. Michigan had had the highest monthly unemployment rate in the country since April 2006.
Wyss said the new report did not show any major changes overall in state trends.
"In general, the band of states between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains are doing relatively well while the worst hit states remain the housing bubble states and manufacturing states around the Great Lakes," he said.
North Dakota continued to have the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3.6 percent. It was followed by South Dakota (4.6 percent) and Nebraska (4.9 percent).
By region, the West reported the highest regional jobless rate at 10.9 percent, unchanged from April. The Northeast had the lowest rate at 8.9 percent, also the same as the previous month.
Unemployment in the South stood at 9.4 percent in May, down from 9.6 percent in April. The jobless rate in the Midwest was 9.7 percent, an improvement from 10 percent in April.