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Published: Saturday, 4/19/2008

Mich. and Fla. lost most jobs in March


Among the states, Michigan and Florida lost the most jobs in March, contributing to the biggest decline in American payrolls in five years.

Employment in Michigan dropped by 21,900 workers last month and Florida lost 17,400 jobs, the U.S. Labor Department said yesterday. Payrolls fell in 27 states, plus the District of Columbia.

The economy has lost jobs in each of the first three months of the year, culminating in an 80,000 drop in March that was the biggest since 2003, the agency said. Growing unemployment is one reason more and more economists say the nation is already in a recession.

The decline in Michigan reflected a 14,800 drop in factory payrolls. The national figures issued on April 4 showed auto manufacturers cut 24,000 jobs last month, "largely" reflecting the effects of the strike at American Axle, a supplier for General Motors Corp. in Detroit.

In Florida, the loss of 17,000 from payrolls at professional and business-service companies, a category that includes temporary-help agencies and building management, accounted for the bulk of the decline in employment. Florida construction companies eliminated 6,700 workers from payrolls.

The two states also led the list in the year ended in March, with Michigan losing 74,200 jobs and Florida 56,600.

The state and local employment data are derived independently from the national statistics, which are typically released on the first Friday of every month. The state figures, because they come from smaller surveys, are subject to larger sampling errors, according to the Labor Department.

The national jobless rate rose to 5.1 percent last month, the highest level since September, 2005.

Michigan had the highest jobless rate for the year of all states at 7.2 percent, followed by Alaska at 6.7 percent, and California at 6.2 percent.

Ohio's unemployment rate in March climbed to 5.7 percent from 5.3 percent in February, the state said yesterday. The figures show the number of unemployed rose to 344,000, up from 316,000 the month before. The rate this March was up from 5.5 percent a year earlier.

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