By The Associated Press
FITFUL PROGRESS: Unemployment rates fell in less than half of U.S. states in December â¿¿ 22 â¿¿ as steady but slow hiring is making only gradual improvement in the job market. Rates rose in 16 states and held steady in 12.
BIG STRIDES: Nevada's unemployment rate, the highest in the nation, dropped 0.6 percentage point to 10.2 percent. Its decline from 13 percent a year ago was the biggest in the nation. Rhode Island's rate also fell to 10.2 percent, down from 10.4 percent in November.
STAYING BUSY: North Dakota reported the nation's lowest unemployment rate., at 3.2 percent. Nebraska had the second-lowest rate, at 3.7 percent, followed by South Dakota at 4.4 percent.