VIRGINIA

Virginia unemployment still below national average

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's jobless rate remained steady in January and is still below the national average.

The Virginia Employment Commission says the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.6 percent in January. That's the same as it was in December, and down from 6 percent a year ago.

Officials say the state's labor force expanded in January for the sixth consecutive month.

Virginia's unemployment rate has been trending down since joblessness peaked at 7.4 percent from December 2009 until March 2010.

The Labor Department says the national unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent in January. Unemployment rates increased in half of U.S. states in January from December, as employers nationwide added the fewest jobs in seven months. Rates fell in only 8 states and were unchanged in 17.

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