Massachusetts gained more than 19,000 jobs in April, according to a report released Thursday, dropping the state's unemployment rate down another tenth of a percentage point, to 9.2 percent.
The preliminary jobs estimate is the largest over-the-month job gain in 17 years, says the state's Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
Northeastern University economist Alan Clayton-Matthews thinks the numbers may be too high, but that growth was nonetheless significant.
"It's hard to believe that 19,000 is a real number that will hold up, but there's a lot to believe that there really was strong job growth," Clayton-Matthews said, adding that 5,000 to 10,000 new jobs may be a more realistic growth estimate.
Gov. Deval Patrick says the numbers show the state is headed towards economic recovery.
"There's still a lot of people who need work, but we've had three straight months of moving in the right direction," Patrick said.
The number of added jobs is about three times what state analysts were predicting.
Massachusetts saw job growth in seven of 10 employment sectors. The surge was spurred by the professional, scientific and business services sectors as well as construction. The professional sector added 7,200 jobs, while construction — hit hard by the recession — added nearly 4,000 jobs, equaling growth of 3.8 percent.
Massachusetts had a 9.3 percent unemployment rate in March. The national unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent in April, despite the fact the country added 290,000 jobs.
WBUR's Curt Nickisch contributed to this report.
This program aired on May 20, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.