LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan's unemployment rate continued to drop in March, reaching its lowest level since mid-2008, the state announced Wednesday.
The state's seasonally adjusted jobless rate dipped to 8.5 percent, which was down from 8.8 percent in February and which marks the state's lowest jobless rate since August 2008.
The number of unemployed dipped by 37,000 in the first three months of 2012, as employment rose by 21,000 workers in March alone, according to state statistics.
Michigan's jobless rate, which has been among the nation's highest for several years, is now closer to the national average of 8.2 percent in March. Ten states had higher jobless rates than Michigan in February.
Gov. Rick Snyder gave a nod to the state's employment trends during a conference call with reporters Wednesday from Afghanistan, where he is visiting military installations.
"It is good to see the improvement in Michigan. The unemployment news today was exciting," he said.
The total number of nonfarm payroll jobs in Michigan has increased by 57,000 over the past year. The state has added 30,000 manufacturing jobs, including 10,000 in transportation equipment. The state also records about 18,000 more professional and business service jobs than it did a year ago. Education and health service jobs also have increased.
Retail trade and government jobs have decreased in the past year.