Michigan's unemployment rate fell to 6.2 percent in January, the lowest level since September 2002, state officials said Wednesday.
The rate is down half a percentage point from December's 6.7 percent rate and down eight-tenths of a percentage point from the January 2005 rate of 7.0 percent.
But the state remains well above the January 2006 national average of 4.7 percent.
State officials pointed to some encouraging trends. Michigan's unemployment rate has been below 7 percent for 10 months after being around 7 percent or higher for about two and a half years before that. The number of unemployed workers has been slowly dropping since mid-2003.
Seasonally adjusted Michigan payroll jobs fell by 29,000 in January to 4.37 million, with job losses spread through most sectors of the economy.
Manufacturing lost 6,000 jobs, while trade, transportation and utilities saw the biggest drop with a loss of 10,000 jobs. Hospitality services lost 5,000 jobs; construction, 4,000; and professional and business services, 3,000.