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Rob Crump prepares to mate the chassis and body of a 2011 Chevrolet Cobalt at GM's Lordstown assembly plant in Ohio on Tuesday.The sluggish U.S. jobs recovery is inching beyond the industrial South and Midwest, and is spreading toward the service-heavy economies of the two coasts, in a sign of hope for a labor force hit by the worst recession in generations.

New Labor Department data, released Friday, showed that the decline in unemployment was widespread: The jobless rate fell last month from April in 37 states, plus the District of Columbia.

"The recovery has spread out," said Steven Cochrane, an economist at Moody's Analytics.

The U.S. has added nearly a million jobs since the trough of the recession in December 2009, including some temporary Census Bureau jobs that will soon disappear. The gains have been uneven. States with big manufacturing and natural-resource sectors like Texas and Indiana have enjoyed steady growth, while states like Nevada, where the housing bust was especially dire, have lagged badly.

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