Employers added more jobs in three-quarters of U.S. states in March, led by big gains in Maryland, Ohio and New Jersey. Just 12 states shed jobs, while there was no change in South Dakota.

The Labor Department says the unemployment rate dropped in 21 states, rose in 15 and was unchanged in 14. The unemployment rate doesn't always decline even when more hiring occurs, because more Americans may start job hunting and push up the rate even as others are hired.

The figures reflect solid job gains that occurred nationwide last month, as employers added 215,000 positions in March. The unemployment rate ticked up to 5 percent from 4.9 percent, but mostly for a good reason: More Americans started looking for work, though not all immediately found jobs.