VIRGINIA

Virginia jobless rate falls to 5.2 percent in April

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia officials say the state's jobless rate fell in April for the second consecutive month, to its lowest since November 2008.

The Virginia Employment Commission says the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.2 percent in April. That's down from 5.3 percent in March, and down from 5.9 percent a year ago.

Virginia's unemployment rate has been trending down since joblessness peaked at 7.4 percent from December 2009 until March 2010.

The agency says that after falling in February and March, the labor force expanded slightly in April as household employment continued to increase and the number of unemployed fell.

Gov. Bob McDonnell says the lower rate is a direct result of Virginians working together to get economy back on track and more Virginians back to work.

State officials say the April rate is the lowest in the Southeast and the second-lowest east of the Mississippi River.

The Labor Department says the national unemployment rate was 7.5 percent in April.

Solid hiring helped lower unemployment rates in 40 U.S. states last month, the most since November. The declines show the job market is improving throughout most of the country.

Unemployment rates increased in only three states: Louisiana, Tennessee and North Dakota. Rates were unchanged in seven states. California, New York and South Carolina all reported the largest unemployment rate declines in April.

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