The number of unemployed Americans rose in 23 states in September, as businesses shed payrolls to cope with the tighter credit markets and weaker earnings, the Labor Department reported this week.

While the national unemployment rate remained steady at 6.1 percent, as many as 19 states had local unemployment rates above the national average, the report said.

Last month, 11 states and the District of Columbia saw steep declines in employment, with Michigan, Georgia and Louisiana hit hardest, the report said.

Michigan and Georgia have experienced the sharpest increases in unemployment over the past year, accounting for a combined 139,000 jobs lost.