Utah's unemployment rate continues to buck the national trend, according to Utah Department of Employment Security officials.

The monthly report shows Utah's unemployment went down in March to 4.2 percent from February's 4.3 percent figure, a direct contrast to the nation's unemployment rate increasing to 6.8 percent, the highest level in more than four years.The U.S. Labor Department reported that since last summer 2 million more people are unemployed. The unemployment figure nationally is the fifth consecutive month the jobless rate has increased.

"Utah kept the recessionary hounds at bay once more," said Lecia Parks Langston, chief economist for the Utah employment office.

Nearly 33,800 Utahns were out of work in March, 1,100 fewer than March 1990. In addition, the March unemployment figure is .2 lower than the 1990 figure.

Despite higher U.S. joblessness, Langston believes the recent rise in the nation's Index of Leading Economic Indicators suggests the country soon will start to climb out of the recession.

She said the unemployment rate tends to be a lagging rather than a leading indicator of economic health. "It appears that Utah may escape this national downturn with only minute economic aches and pains. In fact, the state's economy keeps performing even better than our optimism expects," she said.