The national unemployment rate remained constant at 9.7% for the third straight month according to a new report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an increase of 1.1% over the March 2009 rate.

Shifts in Regional and State Unemployment

Overall, 24 states showed increases in unemployment, while just 17 states and Washington, D.C. showed decreases in unemployment rates. Compared to unemployment rates from last year at this time, 44 states are experiencing higher unemployment in 2010.

By region, the West has experienced the highest jobless rate at 11%, while the Northeast saw the lowest at 9.1%. However, this rate is still 1.3% higher than the rate from a year ago, and the regional rate for the West has increases 1.5%.

Michigan Again Posts Highest Unemployment Rate

Michigan posted a 14.1% unemployment rate, the highest rate in the U.S., followed by Nevada at 13.4%, then California and Rhode Island, both with 12.6% unemployment.

Massachusetts was the only state to record a decrease in its unemployment rate, declining just 0.2% from a month ago. Washington, D.C. also posted a slight decrease, with unemployment declining 0.3% in the nation’s capital.

While many of the numbers coming out in the last few weeks have demonstrated optimism that the economy has started to turn around, these numbers, which may have the greatest significance for Americans, still show that there is a long way to go before we start recovering the jobs and regaining the employment rates lost over the past year.

You can view the full Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment rate report here.

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