New York and New Jersey reported the biggest job gains last month, likely reflecting a bounce back from Superstorm Sandy, which caused job losses in both states in November. New York gained nearly 9,000 construction jobs, while New Jersey added 4,200.

That's nearly half the 30,000 construction jobs created last month nationwide, the biggest increase in 15 months.

Still, New Jersey now has the nation's fourth-highest unemployment rate, at 9.6 percent. That's down slightly from the previous month but a half-point higher than a year ago.

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.

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