Unemployment fell in only 18 states last month, a much smaller number than in recent months and a sign that jobs remain scarce nationwide.
The Labor Department says the jobless rate rose in 14 states and stayed the same in 18. That’s a slowdown from the past three months when unemployment fell in more than 30 states.
Nationwide, the unemployment rate remained stuck at 9.5 percent in July.
Still, 37 states saw job gains in July, an improvement from June and about the same as May.
There were some bright spots in the Northeast. New York and Massachusetts reported strong job gains. Massachusetts added 19,200 private-sector jobs, the largest monthly gain in more than 20 years. New York's economy added 29,000 private sector jobs in July 2010.
According to the state Department of Labor, the private-sector job increase was New York's largest monthly increase since April 2005.
New York State's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.2 percent in July 2010. The number of unemployed New York State residents dropped slightly, falling from 798,200 in June to 796,700 in July 2010. The statewide labor force fell by 28,700 over this period.
"New York State's labor market regained some traction in July, adding 29,000 private-sector jobs. In addition, our unemployment rate held steady at 8.2 percent, remaining well below the nation's rate of 9.5 percent," said Norman A. Steele, deputy director of the Division of Research and Statistics.