This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released grim new data on the nation's job situation. Another 663,000 people were put out of work in March, pushing the national unemployment rate up from 8.1 to 8.5 percent.

The state-level data won't come out until later this month, but the Wall Street Journal posted a useful interactive table last week on how job losses are playing out at the state level using February's data.

The short version: Every state has seen its unemployment go up since the recession started (dated at late 2007), but some states have seen their jobless rate zoom up faster than others.

Many of the states feeling the most pain are in the South: Using the February numbers, five of the 10 states with the biggest growth in unemployment are in the South:

UNEMPLOYMENT GROWTH BY STATE
State and percent increase in jobless rate since recession began (with current unemployment rate in parentheses)

1. North Carolina: +6 (10.7% -- 4th highest in country)
2. Oregon: +5.4 (10.8%)
3. Rhode Island: +5.3 (10.5%)
4. Nevada: +4.9 (10.1%)
4. Indiana: +4.9 (9.4%)
4. Florida: +4.9 (9.4%)
7. South Carolina: +4.8 (11% -- 2nd highest in country)
7. Georgia: +4.8 (9.3%)
9, Alabama: +4.7 (8.4%)
10. Michigan: +4.6 (12%)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, via Wall Street Journal

Today's data suggests those state-level numbers will only grow higher. As John Quinterno, an analyst at the North Carolina Justice Center who had earlier described N.C.'s labor market as "collapsing" noted in a press release today:
 
"The end of the recession is no where in sight," said Quinterno. "Today's report bodes ill for North Carolina, which likely will see its 10.7 percent unemployment rate rise when state figures are released later in the month."

Since the recession's start, the state's employers have eliminated, on net, 176,000 positions. Some 77 percent of the net losses have occurred just since September 2008.

One interesting point about those high unemployment numbers in the South: They certainly appear to disprove the argument, put forward by opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act, that unions cause higher unemployment.

The Carolinas -- which have among the lowest union density rates in the country -- have also seen some of the largest growth in joblessnes.

This suggests that, as many other studies have found, unemployment rises and falls due to a vast array of changes in the economy -- and can't be pinned on unions.