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Unemployment rates fall below 6 percent in half of US states as hiring picks up

Unemployment rates fell in nearly all U.S. states last month, and half the states now have rates below 6 percent. The figures are a sign of widespread, if slow, improvement in the nation's job market.

The Labor Department says unemployment rates fell in 43 states in April, rose in two states and were unchanged in five.

Hiring is picking up as well. Employers added jobs in 39 states, while 10 states posted job losses. Nebraska reported no change.

Twenty-five states now have unemployment rates of 5.9 percent or lower. The Federal Reserve considers "full employment" to be between 5.2 percent and 5.6 percent. Rates below that level could push up inflation.

Hiring wasn't the whole reason rates fell in many states: Fewer Americans also looked for work.

Bank Rates

Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
30 Y Fixed Graph 4.08% dw 4.24%  
15 Y Fixed Graph 3.19% dw 3.23%  
30 Y Fixed Jumbo Graph 4.51% dw 4.53%  
5/1 ARM Graph 3.36% dw 3.46%  
5/1 Jumbo ARM Graph 3.71% up 3.57%  
Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
$30K HELOC Graph 4.36% -- 4.36%  
$50K HELOC Graph 4.06% -- 4.06%  
$30K Loan Graph 5.07% dw 5.08%  
$50K Loan Graph 4.50% dw 4.51%  
$75K Loan Graph 4.50% dw 4.51%  
Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
36 M New Graph 2.93% up 2.92%  
36 M Used Graph 3.47% up 3.46%  
48 M New Graph 3.21% -- 3.21%  
48 M Used Graph 2.98% -- 2.98%  
60 M New Graph 3.23% -- 3.23%  
Loan Type Graph Yield +/- Last Week
6 month Graph 0.34% -- 0.34%  
1 yr Graph 0.66% -- 0.66%  
5 yr Graph 1.34% -- 1.34%