INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's unemployment rate dropped to 3.6 percent in April, down 0.3 percent from the previous month. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development says the state lost 9,300 private sector jobs last month, though private sector employment has grown by nearly 29,000 over the past year. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show the Indiana labor force increased by more than 4,800 in April.

Indiana's labor force remains at more than 3.32 million. The state's labor force participation rate rose slightly to 64.6 percent, which remains higher than the national rate of 62.9 percent, according to the DWD.

DWD Commissioner Steven Braun says while the figures are positive, they also represent a workforce challenge in meeting current employer demand.

"Indiana’s unemployment rate reaching its lowest point since 2001 is a testament to the strength of the Hoosier economy; however, it's also indicative of an ever-tightening labor market for Hoosier businesses," said Braun. "I encourage unemployed and underemployed Hoosiers to be steadfast in their job searches and consider training and placement opportunities available at their local WorkOne Career Center."

The highest growth sectors for Indiana in April were leisure and hospitality and financial activities. The gains in those sectors were offset by losses in manufacturing and private educational and health services. The DWD says Indiana's total private employment stands at 700 below the November 2016 peak.

Indiana's unemployment rate remains below the national average of 4.4 percent and is the lowest among the surrounding states. Illinois and Michigan have the next lowest rate at 4.7 percent.