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States with the best (and worst) job growth

America's job picture has been improving slowly, with the national unemployment hovering around 7.6 percent in May 2013. But some states have been faring much better than others over the past year. These are the five best states that had the best job growth during the past 12 months – along with those that backtracked or made no progress. Can you guess which boom state was among those that backtracked?

By Schuyler Velasco, Staff writer

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Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee speaks during his 'Working Washington Agenda' news conference this past February in Olympia, Wash. Washington had the fifth best job growth of all US states over the past year.

Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/AP/FIle

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5. Washington ( +1.6 percent)

Civilian labor force population: 3,494,700

May 2013 unemployment rate: 6.8 percent

Last week, Washington’s unemployment rate dropped below 7 percent for the first time since 2008. The state has nearly bounced back from the recession, regaining about 79 percent of the 205,000 jobs it lost during that time. The state added 4,100 jobs in April, with the biggest gains in government (3,200 jobs), education and health services (2,500), and leisure and hospitality.  Other categories, including manufacturing and “other” services, had small losses.

 In May, an estimated 236,900 people in the state were unemployed and actively looking for work.

 Hiring and firing aren’t the sole determining factors for an area’s unemployment rate. The percentage can be driven up or down by things like the growth (or decline) of the workforce population as well. This list ranks the states according to their year-over-year growth rate from May 2012 to May 2013.  

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