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updated 12/20/2011 12:03:16 PM ET 2011-12-20T17:03:16

Unemployment rates fell in 43 states in November, the most number of states to report such declines in eight years.

Major Market Indices

The falling state rates reflect the brightening jobs picture nationally. The U.S. unemployment rate fell sharply in November to 8.6 percent, the lowest since March 2009. The economy has generated 100,000 or more jobs five months in a row — the first time that's happened since 2006, before the Great Recession.

Only three states reported higher unemployment rates in November, the Labor Department said Tuesday. Four states showed no change.

Nevada for the 18th straight month had the highest state unemployment rate: 13 percent. It was followed by California at 11.3 percent. North Dakota again enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate: 3.4 percent. It was followed by Nebraska at 4.1 percent and South Dakota at 4.3 percent.

The biggest decline in the unemployment rate in November compared with October was in Michigan. Its rate dropped by 0.8 percentage point to 9.8 percent, from 10.6 percent in October.

Alabama, Minnesota, South Carolina and Utah all reported declines of 0.6 percentage point in November from October.

Employers added jobs in 29 states and the District of Columbia. Employment decreased in 19 states and was unchanged in two. The largest month-over-month increases were in New York, up 29,500 jobs, and Texas, with a gain of 20,800.

The largest month-over-month decline occurred in Wisconsin, a drop of 14,600 payroll jobs.

The drop in unemployment rates in 43 states marked the most number of states to show declines since October 2003.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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