ECONOMY

Hiring rises in 11 US states last month, gains widely spread

Hiring picked up in 11 states last month compared with January and was mostly unchanged in the other 39, as stronger U.S. job gains benefited most of the country. Still, pockets of weakness remained.

The Labor Department says that hiring in February was most robust in states outside the coastal regions that have fared the best since the Great Recession. The biggest gains, as a proportion of total jobs, were in Montana, Nebraska, Arkansas, and New Mexico.

Unemployment rates fell sharply in 10 states and rose significantly in Massachusetts, with little change in the other 39.

Hiring trends are more apparent when compared with a year ago. In the past 12 months, job gains were strongest, in percentage terms, in Idaho, Utah and Nevada, all states in the Mountain region.