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Unemployment rates fell in 20 US states last month, while three-quarters added jobs

In this June 16, 2014 photo, Jacksonville police officer F. D. Williams, center, talks to job seekers during the City-Wide Job & Resource Fair at the Prime Osborn Convention Center in Jacksonville, Fla. The government reports on state unemployment rates for May on Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Will Dickey)

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In this June 16, 2014 photo, Jacksonville police officer F. D. Williams, center, talks to job seekers during the City-Wide Job & Resource Fair at the Prime Osborn Convention Center in Jacksonville, Fla. The government reports on state unemployment rates for May on Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Will Dickey)

WASHINGTON - Unemployment fell in 20 states last month and nearly three-quarters of the states added jobs, as the nation at large posted a fourth straight month of solid hiring.

The Labor Department says unemployment rates rose in 16 states and were unchanged in 14 states. Meanwhile, hiring rose in 36 states and declined in 14.

The biggest drops in unemployment rates occurred in Illinois, where the rate fell to 7.5 per cent from 7.9 per cent, and Massachusetts, where it fell to 5.6 per cent from 6 per cent. Georgia reported the largest increase, to 7.2 per cent from 6.9 per cent.

Nationwide, employers added 217,000 jobs in May, the fourth straight month of gains above 200,000. That's the first such stretch since 1999. The unemployment rate remained at 6.3 per cent, matching a five-year low.

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