MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) â¿¿ The Vermont Department of Labor says the state's unemployment rate dropped one-tenth of one percentage point in December to 5.1 percent. Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan says the recovery from the Great Recession has been slower than from past economic slowdowns, but progress is being made. Noonan said Friday that the Vermont economy had a "strong ending to 2012." Vermont's unemployment rate is well below the federal rate of 7.8 percent. The December rate of 5.1 percent compares to a rate of 5.2 percent in November and 5.2 percent in December 2011. Unemployment in Vermont's 17 labor markets ranged from a low of 3.1 percent in the Warren-Waitsfield area to a high of 6.8 percent in Newport.