Half of states see jobless rates rise in January

In all, seven states still have an unemployment rate of 9 percent or higher. California and Rhode Island have the highest rates in the country, at 9.8 percent, while Nevada has dropped down to 9.7 percent – compared to 12 percent in January 2012.

New Jersey, North Carolina, Mississippi and Illinois also sport unemployment rates of at least 9 percent, with the latter two suffering significant rises in January.

On the other side of the spectrum, North Dakota, Nebraska and South Dakota all have rates well under the 5 percent mark, with North Dakota checking in at 3.3 percent.

North Carolina and South Dakota are among the states that Republicans are targeting in the 2014 midterms, as the GOP looks to wrest back control of the Senate.

Several of the other states that Republicans are looking at – Alaska (6.7 percent), Iowa (5 percent), Louisiana (5.9 percent) and Montana (5.7 percent) – have rates well below the national average.

West Virginia and Michigan – where Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Carl Levin, both Democrats, are not seeking another term – have rates of 7.4 percent and 8.9 percent, respectively. In Arkansas, where Sen. Mark Pryor is seeking a third term, the rate is 7.2 percent.