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October 22, 2003
South Sees Lower Unemployment Rate
Among the nations' four geographic regions, the South posted the lowest regional unemployment rate, 5.5 percent, in September, the U.S. Department of Labor reported yesterday. This was the first time since June 1982 that the South reported a lower rate than the other three regions.

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Regional and state unemployment rates were generally stable in September. All four regions and 43 states had shifts of 0.3 percentage point or less. The national jobless rate remained at 6.1 percent in September.

Payroll employment decreased in 26 states over the month. The West continued to register the highest rate, 6.3 percent. The Midwest experienced the largest over- the-year unemployment rate change (+0.4 percentage point), while the other three regions reported little or no movement in their jobless rates.

South Dakota continued to have the lowest unemployment rate in September, 3.4 percent, followed by North Dakota and Virginia, 3.7 percent each. Oregon (8.0 percent), Alaska (7.8 percent), and Washington (7.6 percent) had the highest jobless rates.

Compared with September 2002, jobless rates were higher in 27 states, lower in 21 states and the District of Columbia, and unchanged in 2 states. Michigan registered the largest rate increase from a year ago (+1.3 percentage points), followed by Oregon (+0.8 point).

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