COLUMBUS -- Ohio's unemployment rate dropped in April to 5.7 percent, the lowest level in more than six years, the state reported Friday in news that continued to play into the governor's race.
The rate, which was down from 6.1 percent in March, is the lowest since the same rate in February 2008. Ohio's rate remains below the national figure, which fell to 6.3 percent in April from 6.7 percent in March, according to the Department of Job and Family Services.
Ohio's nonfarm wage and salary employment increased 12,600 over the month, from 5,285,000 in March to 5,297,600 in April, the agency said. The number of unemployed workers in Ohio in April was 328,000, down 26,000 from 354,000 in March.
The state said an increase of 2,100 manufacturing jobs exceeded a loss of 900 construction jobs. Jobs in trade, transportation and utilities were up by 6,200, with declines of 2,800 in educational and health services. Mining and logging jobs remained unchanged from March.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald said the figures disguise the fact 14,000 people stopped looking for work during April.
"Ohioans are not only having a hard time finding jobs, they are simply giving up hope of ever finding work," FitzGerald said in a statement.
People stop looking for jobs for a variety of reasons, including discouragement, retirement, returning to school or deciding to stay home with children, said family services spokesman Benjamin Johnson.
FitzGerald and GOP incumbent John Kasich face off in a November gubernatorial race sure to focus on the state's economic position.
A Kasich spokeswoman said the economy is moving in the right direction but there's more to do. Connie Wehrkamp criticized Democrats for "trying to tear down Ohio."
She said more than 250,000 private-sector jobs have been created under Kasich.