WASHINGTON – State unemployment rates shot up nationwide in December, with Indiana and South Carolina racking up the largest monthly increases.
The Labor Department reported Tuesday that Indiana's jobless rate soared to 8.2 percent in December from 7.1 percent in November. South Carolina's bolted to 9.5 percent from 8.4 percent. Each state logged a 1.1 percentage point rise in unemployment from November to December.
The U.S. unemployment rate, issued earlier this month, jumped to a 16-year high of 7.2 percent in December.
More Americans are getting pink slips as the recession, now in its second year, drags on. A trio of crises — housing, credit and financial — are pushing up foreclosures, shriveling nest eggs and forcing both companies and consumers to pull back, which is aggravating the economic downturn.
Michigan and Rhode Island were the only two states to see their unemployment rates hit double digits last month.
Hard hit by fallout in the auto industry as well as in manufacturing, Michigan's unemployment rate soared to 10.6 percent in December. Rhode Island's jobless rate hit 10 percent, the highest on records dating back to 1976.
Six states — Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Oregon — each posted over-the-month gains of a full percentage point in their unemployment rates in December.
"Regional and state unemployment rates were universally higher in December," the Labor Department said. All 50 states and the District of Columbia recorded monthly increases.