Ohio's unemployment rate fell again in March, although the state shed nearly 10,000 jobs during the month.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said Friday that the state's jobless rate was 7.5 percent in March, down from 7.6 percent in February and 7.7 percent in January.
The state said the number of unemployed workers fell 5,000 to 438,000 in March and has dropped by 73,000 over the last 12 months.
However, the total number of Ohioans employed in nonagricultural jobs dropped by 9,500 in March after relatively strong job growth in January and February. State officials previously said employers added about 60,000 jobs in those two months.
The job decline in Ohio was the largest in the nation, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
Ohio's unemployment rate remains lower than the U.S. rate, which stood at 8.2 percent in March.
Michigan reported Wednesday that its unemployment rate in March was 8.5 percent. That's down from 8.8 percent in February and represents the lowest jobless rate for the state since August, 2008.
The number of unemployed in the state has dipped by 37,000 in the first three months of 2012. Nationwide, fewer U.S. states reported job gains in March, reflecting slower hiring nationwide.
The more sluggish job growth coincides with more people seeking unemployment benefits in the past month. The trends suggest that hiring could slow in coming months.
Job gains were reported in 29 states last month, the Labor Department said Friday. That's worse than February, when 42 states added jobs. Nationwide in March, employers added only 120,000 jobs, half the pace of the previous three months.
Economists have cautioned, though, that the hiring slowdown in March might be temporary. They noted that a warmer winter may have led to some earlier hiring in January and February. Most are awaiting the April jobs report before concluding that hiring has stalled. That report will be released May 4.
Nevada has the nation's highest unemployment rate, 12 percent. That's down from 12.3 percent in February. Rhode Island reported the next highest rate, at 11.1 percent, down from 11.2. California has the third-highest rate, 11 percent, up from the previous month's 10.9.
North Dakota's 3 percent unemployment rate is the nation's lowest, the report said. That's down from 3.1 percent in the previous month. Nebraska has the second-lowest rate, at 4 percent, down from 4.1 percent. South Dakota has the third-lowest rate, at 4.3 percent, the same as the previous month.