SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.4 percent in September, down from 5.8 percent in August according to statistics released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Thursday. The drop is more than a full percentage point from a year ago, the latest indicator of continued economic strength in the state.

By comparison, U.S. unemployment fell to 7.8 percent in September, down from 8.1 percent in August. That translates to more than 12 million people without a job. The unemployment rate measures people who have searched for jobs in the past four weeks, while millions of other out-of-work Americans aren't included.

Utah and Hawaii registered significant declines during the past month, dropping 0.2 percent each. The remaining states and the District of Columbia posted jobless rates that were not measurably different from those of a month earlier.

Thursday, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert credited the state’s business-friendly environment and a diverse economy for the decline.

“The good news is that every sector of Utah’s economy is growing again," Herbert said.  "We happen to be the most sixth or seventh most diverse economies in the nation.”

As estimated this month, most of Utah’s industrial sectors are contributing to job growth, with the two exceptions being government along with leisure and hospitality, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

Professional and business services outpaced all other industries by adding 11,400 jobs over the past 12 months. The next highest accumulation was in financial activities at 2,600 new jobs. 

Over half of all Utah job growth is occurring in professional and business services. The governor also cited changes in construction as an indicator of economic growth:

"Construction is that last to recover. It’s the first to be hurt, and now it’s stabilizing. Real estate prices, housing prices, more permits now that 12 months ago,” Herbert said.