Arizona's unemployment rate fell to 8.2 percent in April, down from 8.6 percent in March, state officials reported Thursday.
The improvement was explained in good news-bad news terms by analysts in the Arizona Office of Employment and Population Statistics.
"About half of this drop in the unemployment rate can be attributed to employment growth, and the other half to a drop in the labor force as people stopped looking for work," the agency's report said.
In Tucson, the April unemployment rate was 6.6 percent, compared with a 7.6 percent revised rate for March, the report said. Phoenix also was at 6.6 percent for April, own from a revised 7.5 percent in March.
The report said the state added 9,300 non-farm jobs during the month, including 7,900 in the private sector, gains characterized as above historic averages. Strongest categories were professional and business services; trade, transportation and utilities; construction and government.
Job losses were recorded in leisure and hospitality and the miscellaneous categories, of about 1,100 each.
Arizona unemployment for April compared favorably with the national rate, which was 8.1 percent. One year ago in April, the state rate was 9.6 percent and the national rate was 9.0 percent.
Measured year over year, professional and business services in the state grew the most, adding 9,800 jobs. Next were educational and health services with 9,200, construction with 7,200 and leisure and hospitality with 7,000.
Construction was especially hard hit in the recession in Arizona, and it has shown the greatest rebound, state analysts said.
"The recent gains observed have placed the (construction) sector as the top percentage gainer among the major sectors, both over the month and over the year," the report said.