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State unemployment drops slightly in April

Maryland’s unemployment rate fell to 6.5 percent in April — its lowest point in four years — despite the state’s economy losing 6,200 jobs, according to data released Friday by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

March’s job numbers were also revised downward to show a gain of 2,600 jobs. Initial survey data released last month showed a gain of 4,700 jobs. The March unemployment rate was 6.6 percent.

In a statement, Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Secretary Leonard J. Howie III said the new Employment Advancement Right Now, or EARN, a job training program approved by the General Assembly this year, would help Maryland grow its workforce.

“The Maryland Department of Labor remains focused on accelerating hiring and job growth as we continue to recover the jobs lost during the national economic recession,” Howie said. “Our investments in skills development and education are helping to put more Marylanders back to work.”

While the state continues to shed public-sector jobs, several private-sector industries posted gains in April. The trade, transportation, warehousing and utilities sector gained 2,300 jobs, including 2,000 jobs in retail.

The manufacturing sector gained 600 jobs, and the arts, entertainment and recreation subsector gained 700 jobs, despite a net loss in the leisure and hospitality industry.

Gov. Martin O’Malley noted a veterans hiring initiative and the expansion of some tax credits — including one for investors in Maryland biotechnology companies and another for film production activity, such as the one claimed by Netflix series “House of Cards” and HBO’s “Veep” — should create more job opportunities.