WASHINGTON - In a reversal of earlier gains, more states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, lost jobs than added them in November, signaling that hiring is occurring sporadically around the country.

Unemployment rates dropped in 36 states and the District of Columbia, but that trend appeared to reflect more people leaving the workforce. Unemployed people who stop looking for jobs out of frustration are not counted in the labor force.

Yesterday's Labor Department report underscored that employers have yet to ramp up hiring, and many Americans can't find work.

In Pennsylvania, the number of nonfarm jobs dropped by 10,200 last month, and jobs fell by 9,400. Pennsylvania's unemployment rate fell, while it was unchanged in New Jersey.

In all, 19 states added jobs in November, down from 28 in October, yesterday's report showed. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia suffered a net loss of jobs.

The states with the largest job gains were Texas, Ohio, Georgia, Arizona, and Iowa.

Pennsylvania's unemployment rate fell 0.4 of a percentage point in November to 8.5 percent. That was partly because the state's labor force dropped by 12,000.

It also reflected a decline in the number of people without jobs, which was down 22,000 from October to 540,000. That still was well above the 393,000 unemployed in November 2008, when the unemployment rate was 6.1 percent.

The national unemployment rate in November was 10 percent.

Total nonfarm jobs in the state fell to 5,605,200. The biggest losses were in professional and business services (down 4,500 jobs), leisure and hospitality (down 3,200) and government (down 3,200).

Education and health-services jobs rose (up 3,400 jobs), as did construction (up 1,900).

In New Jersey, the unemployment rate held steady at 9.7 percent.

Of the job losses in November, the largest were in the trade/transportation/utility category (down 9,700 jobs), construction (down 2,800), professional/business services (down 1,900), and financial services (down 1,200).

But there were gains in manufacturing (up 2,500 jobs), leisure/hospitality (up 2,100), and government (up 1,500).

The number of jobless in the state rose 1,200 to 440,500.