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A jump in seasonal jobs helped push the unemployment rate in Erie and Niagara counties down sharply to 6.1 percent during April, the state Labor Department said today.

The decline in the jobless rate, which fell from 7.0 percent in March and 7.4 percent a year ago, was the second straight monthly dip in the Niagara Frontier unemployment gauge.

The 6.1 percent figure is the lowest since it hit 5.6 percent in December 1990.

"Anytime you end up with positive numbers, that's good," said George P. Smyntek, the Labor Department's regional economist in Buffalo. "Does it say anything about the state of the economy? No."

Despite the improvement in the unemployment rate, the area still had 1,900 fewer jobs in April than it did a year ago, as the region's manufacturing base continues to decline while most of the other sectors have been unable to pick up much of the slack, Smyntek said.

"Basically, the service sector has been carrying us," Smyntek said.

The number of people working in Erie and Niagara counties rose to 522,700 during April, up from 518,400 during March and 507,100 a year earlier. The number of jobs and the number of people working differ because some people hold more than one job.

Jobless levels also declined, with 33,900 people classified as unemployed, compared with 38,800 in March and 40,800 a year earlier.

The statewide unemployment rate also improved sharply, falling to 7 percent from 7.6 percent in March and 7.7 percent during April 1992.

In Erie County, the jobless rate fell to 5.8 percent last month from 6.6 percent during March and 7.1 percent a year ago.

The number of people employed in Erie County rose to 435,100 last month from 432,400 in March and 421,900 one year ago. At the same time, the number of unemployed people fell to 26,600 from 30,600 in March and 32,200 a year ago.

Niagara County's rate fell to 7.7 percent from 8.7 percent in March and 9.2 percent a year ago. The number of people employed rose to 87,500 from 86,000 in March and 85,100 one year ago.

The unemployment rate in Buffalo improved to 9.7 percent, compared with 11 percent in March and 11.8 percent in April 1992. The jobless rate in Niagara Falls fell to 11.9 percent from 13.5 percent in March and 14.1 percent a year earlier.

The greatest improvement last month came from the construction sector, which added 1,600 jobs to 16,400 as building activity enjoyed its seasonal pick-up. Manufacturing lost another 400 jobs because of layoffs in the automotive industry and now accounts for 88,800 local jobs.

The trade sector added 400 jobs to 129,000 but government employment fell 900 to 87,800.

Here are the unemployment rates in other Western New York counties.

Allegany County -- 7.3 percent in April, compared with 9.1 percent in March and 9 percent in April 1992.

Cattaraugus County -- 8.2 percent, 9 percent and 9.8 percent.

Chautauqua County -- 6.7 percent, 6.8 percent and 8.3 percent.

Genesee County -- 7.1 percent, 8.9 percent and 9.1 percent.

Orleans County -- 7.7 percent, 8.8 percent and 9 percent.

Wyoming County -- 8.8 percent, 10.9 percent and 10.2 percent.

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