By JEANNINE AVERSA
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – All but six states lost jobs in April and double-digit unemployment persisted in every corner of the country as companies squeezed by the recession slashed payrolls.
For the fifth straight month, California led the nation in net job losses, with 63,700 jobs disappearing in April. Among the handful of winners were Arkansas, Montana and Florida – a state battered by the housing collapse and badly in need of good news.
Michigan, the heart of the teetering American auto industry, posted the highest unemployment rate in the nation, 12.9 percent, the Labor Department said Friday. Oregon came in at 12 percent, South Carolina at 11.5 percent and Rhode Island at 11.1 percent.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has said he expects the economy to begin growing again later this year, but the recovery is expected to be slow, with companies in no rush to hire. The Fed projects unemployment will stay high well into 2011.
After California, Texas cut the second-most jobs of any state, with 39,500. Michigan lost 38,400 and Ohio 25,200.
Layoffs in manufacturing, construction and retail are a common theme in states with high unemployment. States like South Carolina, Michigan and Rhode Island have had trouble luring new types of companies to cushion the loss of manufacturing jobs and training laid-off factory workers for other kinds of employment.
Despite the tens of thousands of lost jobs, California’s jobless rate actually fell, to 11 percent from 11.2 percent in March. It was still the fifth-highest rate in the country.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told lawmakers this week he does not have authority to use the $700 billion bailout fund to help state and local governments. Geithner said he was working with Congress to make it easier for governments to borrow.