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PORTLAND-The jobs picture continues to be worst in the Northwest, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today.

The West continued to report the highest unemployment rate in the nation — 5.6% in October — thanks to Washington and Oregon, which posted seasonally adjusted rates of 6.6% and 6.5%, respectively.

Nationwide, 33 states posted higher unemployment in October than in September, eight states posted lower rates and nine states remained unchanged. As a result, the national jobless rate rose to 5.4% in October. The Midwest and Northeast registered the lowest rates, 4.6% each. All four regions posted rate increases of 0.8-1.0 percentage point over the year.

The regional and state labor market data for the month of October reflect the impact of the terrorist attacks of September 11, states the BLS in its report. The labor market had been weakening before the attacks, and those events exacerbated this weakness, according to the BLS.

All four states with unemployment rates of 6.0% or more in October were in the West. Three of the four states with the lowest rates in October were located in the Great Plains–North Dakota, 2.0%, Nebraska, 3.0%, and South Dakota, 3.1%; Delaware also had a rate of 3.0% West Virginia recorded a new 23-year low of 4.4%.

Nevada recorded the largest over-the-month rate increase, 1.5 percentage points, due in large part to declines in hotel and casino employment. Hawaii registered the second largest increase, 0.9 point, following a drop-off in tourism and related activities. The largest over-the-month declines in jobless rates were reported in Arkansas, -0.6 percentage points, and Alaska and West Virginia, -0.5 points each.

While the BLS says it is not possible to precisely quantify the job-market effects of the terrorist attacks of September 11, the broad impact of these events is evident in certain states and industries. Thirty-five states reported over-the-month employment decreases in transportation and public utilities, and 32 states and the District of Columbia had declines in services.

Nevada and Hawaii, two states where tourism-related industries are a significant portion of services, reported the largest percentage declines in services employment, -2.4% and -2.0%, respectively. Of the 62,200 jobs lost in New York, 22,800 were in finance, insurance, and real estate, 13,700 were in services, and 11,200 were in trade. Some of the job loss experienced in New York, particularly in the finance, insurance, and real estate industry, results from firms relocating to New Jersey following the September 11 building destructions in New York City.

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