Unemployment-weary Americans are much likelier to find jobs in North Dakota than in Nevada or California, according to Gallup's Job Creation Index released Monday.

North Dakota topped the list of best places to find jobs last year, followed by other states rich in natural resources, such as South Dakota and Alaska.

Washington, D.C., Arkansas, West Virginia, Maryland and Texas also had strong labor markets. Michigan, buoyed by an improving automobile market, showed the biggest 2010 improvement within the Job Creation Index, followed by Washington, D.C., North Dakota and Ohio.

"Having a significant presence of natural resource-based industries was a distinct job-creation advantage for states such as North Dakota, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Texas," Gallup said in a statement. "Also among the top 10 in 2010 were Alaska -- another energy state -- and Washington, D.C., and Maryland, both of which benefit from having a large percentage of federal government workers."

Worst States for Job Hunters

Despite their designations as the Silver State and the Golden State, Nevada and California were among the worst places to mine for jobs last year. Nevada had the worst job market of any state, while New Jersey, which was hit hard by the financial crisis, came in second and California ranked third, Gallup says.

Meanwhile, New Mexico and Nebraska, which were among 2009's best job markets, were the only states to see a decline in the Job Creation Index.

Overall, U.S. unemployment fell to 9% last month, a welcome improvement after the rate had lingered in the 9.5% range for the previous year and a half. Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve projected that the economy could grow as much as 3.9% this year.

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