By DAVID N. GOODMAN/Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) – Michigan’s unemployment rate has fallen again, pulling even with the national rate for the first time in 15 years, the state announced Wednesday.

The state’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate dropped 0.2 points to 5.4 percent in April, the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget said. The U.S. rate fell 0.1 points to 5.4 percent in April.

“Reaching the national average after being dead last has been a priority as we’ve worked to reinvent Michigan,” Gov. Rick Snyder, who began his first four-year term in 2011, said in a statement. “We’ve cut Michigan’s unemployment rate by more than half since the end of 2010, creating nearly 400,000 private sector jobs.”

The state’s jobless rate has fallen 2 percentage points from 7.5 percent in April 2014, the department said. It said the jobless rate in the state now has fallen for 20 consecutive months since September 2013.

The number of unemployed people in Michigan fell 10,000 in the latest month to 257,000, while the state’s civilian labor force shrank by 6,000 to 4.741 million, the department said. It said 4.483 million people were working in Michigan in April.

“Michigan has displayed an impressive run of monthly jobless rate reductions over the past year,” Jason Palmer, director of the department’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, said in a statement. “Statewide payroll job levels have increased by nearly 100,000 since April 2014.”

In the 12 months ending in April, the number of unemployed people in Michigan fell by 98,000, or 27.6 percent. The number fell 11.8 percent nationwide in that time.

The Republican governor said that reaching the national average “is an important milestone, but we now must set our sights on surpassing that mark.”

The keys to further lowering Michigan’s jobless rate, he said, include improving workforce training and helping making Michigan “the place where companies look to grow and create more and better jobs.”

 

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