SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's unemployment rate dropped to 5.8 percent in August, defying a national trend of stalled growth, state officials said Friday.

The state's latest jobless report shows the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate crept down 0.2 percentage points last month from 6 percent in July.

Utah's rate is also lower than the same month last year and remains several points below the national rate of 8.1 percent.

Across the country, unemployment rose in more than half the states last month, the U.S. Labor Department said Friday.

"If you're looking for examples of wise economic stewardship and fiscal prudence — look to Utah," Gov. Gary Herbert said in a statement.

August's rate is also lower than the same month last year when Utah's unemployment rate was 6.7 percent.

For the second month in a row, the professional and business services sector led the state in new jobs, adding 7,200 jobs in the past 12 months, the state Department of Workforce Services said.

State officials attribute most of that growth to scientific and technical fields that generally require advanced degrees and offer higher wages.

A report released last month showed declines in Utah construction, which now appears to be on the rebound. The industry was up 800 positions in August compared with a year ago.

In all, about 78,700 Utahans were unemployed in August.