A drop in the unemployment rate sometimes indicates a drop in the labor force because of so-called discouraged workers who have stopped actively looking for work or just retired early. But in a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Bailey said that was not the case for April.

"This is a pure positive trend that we're looking at right now," he said.

While job growth may continue in the coming months, there may not be a corresponding improvement with the unemployment rate because previously discouraged workers will start looking for work again, Bailey said.

More than 243,000 people were unemployed in the state and looking for work last month, including nearly 130,800 who claimed unemployment benefits. A total of 138,997 people have exhausted their benefits since extended relief was activated in July 2008.

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