Last Thursday, the Department of Labor released its weekly initial unemployment insurance claims data , which showed an increase of 13,000 from the week previous. On the bright side, the four-week moving average showed an actual decrease in claims, and the numbers reflect the fewest initial weekly filings in over five years.

Overall, this is great news. But unemployment is still stubbornly high, and the government noted recently that 28 states saw their rates of unemployment rise as job creation stalled. Many states are still struggling; here are three states in particular that are having an especially difficult time stamping out joblessness.

1. Nevada
Nevada's unemployment rate, at 9.5%, is the highest in the country. The state was one of the hardest-hit by the housing crisis, leading the nation in foreclosures in January 2011. Nearly 168,000 abandoned homes dotted the state's landscape in 2010, representing approximately one-seventh of the housing stock.


As the bottom dropped out of the housing market, jobs evaporated. While the current jobless rate is a vast improvement over the January 2010 rate of 15.3%, progress is slow. Though state officials boast that Nevada created 22,000 jobs from January to July this year, the unemployment rate has stayed between 9.5% and 9.7% so far.

2. Arizona
Like Nevada, Arizona was taken down by the mortgage crisis and is still suffering the effects of a broken economy. The state is second only to Nevada in the percentage of jobs lost from late 2007 to the present, and it has failed to recover many of those positions. Currently, the state's jobs deficit is the fifth worst in the nation. Though the state's unemployment rate sits much lower than Nevada's, at 8%, the state acknowledges that over 15,000 jobs were lost in July.

3. Vermont
Although the Green Mountain State has the fifth-lowest rate of unemployment in the country, the jobs picture is looking less than stellar. The percentage of those without jobs rose in May, June, and July, with the latter move pushing the rate from 4.4% to the current 4.6%. The state's monthly survey showed a decrease of 500 employed persons from June to July, and a cumulative decline of nearly 4,400 since January 2012.

Recent research at the Public Assets Institute indicates that not only is Vermont slow in the job creation department, but an untoward number of workers in the 25 to 55 age bracket are simply dropping out of the labor force. As an analyst at the Institute notes, this fact is not indicative of a booming employment market.

As you can see, a state's official unemployment rate is not always an adequate measure of the true rate of joblessness, nor is it always a reliable benchmark of the health of that state's job market. The only real lesson here is this: If you are looking to relocate to a place where jobs are plentiful, research more than just the rate of unemployment. And cross these three states off your list.

With the employment outlook still pretty hazy, planning ahead for retirement takes on new significance. The best investing approach is to choose great companies and stick with them for the long term. The Motley Fool's free report, "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich" names stocks that could help you build long-term wealth and retire well, along with some winning wealth-building strategies that every investor should be aware of. Click here now to keep reading.

The article 3 States Where Employment Prospects Are Dim originally appeared on Fool.com.

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