Labor Department: Payrolls rise in 42 states

The new numbers come as Republicans and Democrats continue to spar over the best ways to spur the economy, and how much the federal government should spend on job creation measures.

Both the House and Senate Democratic budgets released this month included tens of billions of dollars in stimulus spending, while Republicans continue to push to rein in spending and balance the budget.

Republicans are also looking to wrest back control of the Senate in 2014, after watching the Democrats gain two seats last year.

Several Democratic senators are looking to win another term in red states, and five Democratic incumbents have already announced their retirement.

But in many of the states Democrats are looking to protect, the jobless rate in February either went down or remains substantially below the federal rate.

South Dakota, where Sen. Tim Johnson announced his retirement just this week, has a rate of 4.4 percent – behind only North Dakota (3.3 percent) and Nebraska (3.8 percent).

In Alaska, where Sen. Mark Begich is going after a second term, the rate fell from 6.7 to 6.5 percent, while the rate in Arkansas stayed steady at 7.2 percent as Sen. Mark Pryor seeks a third term.

Sen. Mary Landrieu’s Louisiana saw the rate inch up to 6 percent, from 5.9 percent.

North Carolina’s jobless rate, meanwhile, is 9.4 percent as Sen. Kay Hagan ramps up her reelection efforts. California, Illinois, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey and Rhode Island also have rates north of 9 percent.

Democratic senators have also announced they are not seeking reelection in Iowa (5 percent), Michigan (8.8 percent), New Jersey and West Virginia (7.3 percent).