RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina's unemployment rate fell to 8.9 percent in April — the lowest in the state in four years.
The state's unemployment rate was 9.2 percent in March.
"This is very encouraging for North Carolina," said John Coleman, economics professor at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.
The state Commerce Department said Friday the number of people unemployed fell by 15,259 between March and April. On the downside, nearly 4,200 fewer people held jobs than in March.
The industry with the largest monthly increase: Leisure and hospitality services, which added 6,100 jobs. It was followed by financial activities with 2,000; government with 1,300, and professional and business services with 1,300.
January 2009 was the last time the state's unemployment rate was at 8.9 percent.
The unemployment picture is improving on the national level. The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.5 percent in April from 7.6 percent the previous month
Coleman said the report contained good news about North Carolina's economy.
"What's encouraging about the report is the large drop in the number of unemployed," he said. That number seems to have more to do with new jobs than people who are deciding to give up rather than keep competing for work.
He also said the new figures bode well for North Carolina in the future.
"It used to be in the 1990s that the unemployment rate in North Carolina was about one and a half percentage points lower than the national average," Coleman said. "But since about 2000, it moved to having an unemployment rate higher than the national average.
"Hopefully we can reverse that trend and get it back below the national average. I think these indicators are suggesting that employment is heading in the right direction," he said.
North Carolina has added has added 73,300 jobs in the past year, when the unemployment rate was 9.4 percent.