HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania's unemployment rate fell again for the ninth straight month, according to state data released Friday, even as payroll and labor force growth remained relatively stagnant in April.

The rate fell three-tenths of a percentage point to 5.7 percent in April, the state Department of Labor and Industry reported. That gives Pennsylvania's its lowest unemployment rate since September 2008 and one that's lower than the national rate of 6.3 percent for April.

The state jobless rate hit a recessionary high of 8.7 percent in 2010.

However, Pennsylvania's labor force - the number of people working or searching for work - and employer payrolls continued in April to show sluggishness.

The size of the labor force grew last month by just 2,000 and remained more than 50,000 below the peak reached in November 2012. A recent drop in the size of the labor force reflected a national trend that economists attributed to many of the unemployed becoming discouraged and stopping their job hunts, younger people staying in school to avoid the job market and older Americans rushing to retire as a rising stock market has buoyed retirement savings.

The number of employed Pennsylvanians grew by 23,000 in April, while the number of unemployed fell by 22,000, the 18th straight monthly decline.

In a separate survey of employers, total nonfarm jobs grew by almost 11,000 in April, recovering about the same amount of jobs shed the prior month. Payrolls stood at nearly 5.77 million in April, or about 44,000 below the level at the start of the 2007-09 recession.

Payrolls hit a recessionary low of 5.56 million in 2010.