Maryland's unemployment rate dropped to 5.8% in March from 6.5% in February, a full percentage point below in national jobless rate of 6.8%, the state's department of economic and employment development reported.

"Fewer people were unemployed during March than at any time in the past 30 months," said department secretary Mark Wasserman. "Other economic data, especially job growth, also demonstrate that Maryland is continuing its gradual recovery."

Withdrawal of workers from the labor market drove the reduction, but employment also grew, adding almost 1,100 workers to the nearly 2.5 million people employed in February, the department said.

The strongest employment growth took place in services, with hiring in business, hotel, and agricultural services leading the expansion. Restaurants, special trades contracting, and local government also reported job growth, it said.

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