ECONOMY

Unemployment drops in 24 states in January as job market improves nationwide

In this Jan. 23, 2015 photo, Mark Childers grabs a turkey reuben sandwich to deliver to a customer at the Superior Restaurant Friday, in Cleveland. The Labor Department reports on state unemployment rates for January on Tuesday, March 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

In this Jan. 23, 2015 photo, Mark Childers grabs a turkey reuben sandwich to deliver to a customer at the Superior Restaurant Friday, in Cleveland. The Labor Department reports on state unemployment rates for January on Tuesday, March 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)  (The Associated Press)

Unemployment rates fell in 24 states in January and rose in just eight, the latest evidence that hiring is strong across the country.

The Labor Department says jobless rates were unchanged in 18 and in Washington, D.C.

North Dakota has the nation's lowest jobless rate, 2.8 percent, a sign that falling oil prices had yet to cause major layoffs in a state that has benefited from an energy boom. Mississippi and Nevada had the highest unemployment rates, 7.1 percent.

Nationwide, employers have added 3.3 million jobs over the past year. Unemployment across the nation dropped to 5.5 percent in February from 6.7 percent a year earlier.