The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - Staff writer Danika Wor­thing­ton con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Em­ploy­ers stepped up their hir­ing in nine U.S. states last month and cut jobs in two, in­clud­ing Colorado, amid mod­est im­prove­ment in the na­tion’s la­bor mar­ket.

The La­bor De­part­ment said Fri­day that un­em­ploy­ment rates fell sharply in 18 states and were lit­tle changed in 32 states.

Florida re­ported the largest job gain in Novem­ber, adding 29,600 jobs, fol­lowed by In­di­ana, which gained 13,100 jobs, and South Carolina, with 12,500.

The largest drops in un­em­ploy­ment rates last month oc­curred in Con­necti­cut, Mas­sachusetts and Mis­souri, each of which saw a de­cline of 0.4 per­cent.

Na­tion­wide, the un­em­ploy­ment rate fell to a nine-year low of 4.6 per­cent last month, as em­ploy­ers added 178,000 jobs. But much of the drop oc­curred be­cause more Amer­i­cans stopped look­ing for work and were no longer counted as un­em­ployed.

The govern­ment only con­sid­ers peo­ple un­em­ployed if they are ac­tively hunt­ing for jobs. While the United States has added 15.4 mil­lion jobs since hir­ing bot­tomed out in Fe­bru­ary 2010, a big rea­son the job­less rate has fallen since then has been be­cause the num­ber of peo­ple work­ing or look­ing for work has fallen.

New Hamp­shire and South Dakota had the low­est un­em­ploy­ment rates last month, at 2.7 per­cent each. Alaska and New Mex­ico had the high­est rates, at 6.8 per­cent and 6.7 per­cent, re­spec­tively.

Two states lost a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of jobs last month: Vir­ginia, which shed 13,600, and Colorado, which lost 12,500.

Colorado de­mog­ra­phers on Fri­day at­trib­uted the lost jobs to a slow start to the ski sea­son, which de­layed hir­ing in the high coun­try.

Statewide un­em­ploy­ment dropped to 3.2 per­cent in Novem­ber from 3.5 per­cent the month be­fore.

In metro Den­ver, un­em­ploy­ment fell to 2.6 per­cent from 2.9 per­cent in Oc­to­ber. The metro un­em­ploy­ment rate was 3.5 per­cent in Novem­ber 2015.

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