Washington (AP/ABC7) - The unemployment rates in Virginia, D.C. and Maryland fell last month, in the midst of unemployment drops nationwide.
The unemployment rate fell in 45 U.S. states in January, a sign that nearly all of the country is benefiting from an improving economy and job market.
The Labor Department said that only New York State reported a higher unemployment rate in January than the previous month. Unemployment rates were unchanged in four states.
That's better than December, when rates fell in 37 states, were unchanged in 10 and rose in three.
Nationwide, the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent in January from 8.5 percent. Employers added 284,000 jobs in Januarythe second-highest total in six years.
Virginia's unemployment rate fell to a three-year low in January, despite job declines across a majority of the state's industries in the last month.
The Virginia Employment Commission said Tuesday the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in January was 5.8 percent. That's down from 6.2 percent in December and 6.4 percent in January 2011.
The rate had been decreasing since peaking at 7.3 percent in December 2010, but had risen slightly from July through September last year.
Virginia's rate is below the national average, which dropped to 8.3 percent in January.
Maryland's Governor Martin O'Malley welcomed reports showing that the state's unemployment rate was down to 6.5 percent. The rate was at the lowest in three years and is nearly two percentage points lower than the national rate. Maryland employers added 39,800 jobs since January of last yearthe most since January 2005-2006.
The district also had good news to report: The District of Columbia Department of Employment Services said that their unemployment rate in January was at 9.9 percentdown 0.2 percent from the month before. The number of unemployed District residents decreased only slightly - from 34,800 in December 2011 to 34,400 in January 2012, according to the District's Department of Employment Services.
January job estimates show a decrease of 11,500 jobs, for a total of 724,300 jobs in the District. The private sector dropped 10,100 jobs, while the public sector payrolls decreased by 1,400 jobs.