The state's unemployment rate continues to drop, falling another three-tenths in March to 4.1 percent, officials said on Friday.

The Vermont Department of Labor released the lower March rate on Friday, which is the third-lowest in the nation. The seasonally-adjusted rate of 4.1 percent is significantly lower than the national 7.6 percent rate, which dropped one-tenth of a percent from the previous month.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin hailed the new state labor report as a sign that Vermont is emerging from a prolonged economic downturn.

"The news today of another drop in Vermont's unemployment rate, to 4.1 percent, is further proof that the state's economy continues to rebound from the worst recession in our memory. Vermont now has the third lowest unemployment rate in the country and the strongest job market in the region, reflecting what I'm hearing from business owners as I travel the state," he said. "While we know the rate will fluctuate up and down over time, the consistent downward trend in recent months shows that employers are hiring and need skilled workers. We are working hard to ensure Vermonters are qualified to fill those jobs and are connected with the employers who need workers."

Vermont Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan said the change in weather is expected to bring new job opportunities in different sectors of the economy.

"The Vermont economy is transitioning from winter to spring employment activities. As the ski areas are winding down, the construction and hospitality sectors are gearing up. We anticipate hiring in these and other sectors, based upon our daily phone interactions with Vermont employers in which we inventory job openings," she said.

According to statistics released Friday by the state Department of Labor, there were 1,650 fewer people in the Vermont workforce in March compared to February. The number of employed Vermonters dropped by 550 people, and the number of unemployed dropped by 1,100 people.

Unemployment rates in the state's 17 labor markets ranged from 2.9 percent to 7.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor is hosting regional job fairs and recruitment activities for Vermont employers, hoping to match those seeking jobs with openings.