WASHINGTON — The unemployment rate fell to record lows in three U.S. states last month, as steady hiring soaked up more of those out of work.
The Labor Department said Tuesday that the jobless rate fell to the lowest levels since records began in 1976 in Hawaii, Mississippi and California. The rate in Hawaii was 2 percent, while Mississippi's dropped to 4.6 percent and California's declined to 4.3 percent.
Nationwide, employers added 148,000 jobs last month and the U.S. unemployment rate stayed at 4.1 percent. Employers added 2.1 million jobs last year, the fewest in seven years. Hiring typically slows as the unemployment rate falls and there are fewer people to hire.
Hawaii has the lowest unemployment rate of all the states, while Alaska's is the highest, at 7.3 percent.
Employers added more jobs in 10 states and cut them in 3 in December. Employment remained essentially unchanged in the other 37 states.
Wyoming, Montana and Oregon reported the biggest percentage increases in jobs in December. Wyoming added 3,100 jobs, while Montana gained 3,900 and Oregon 14,700.
In all of 2017, Nevada saw the largest percentage increase followed by Oregon and Utah. Nevada added 43,800, Oregon gained 49,300 and Utah added 37,900.
No states saw a significant decline in jobs last year.