CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada's unemployment rate dropped for a fourth straight month in April to 12.5 percent, though the welcomed improvement is mostly on the surface because of a shrinking labor force, economists said Friday.

"A tepid economic recovery continued to take hold in Nevada in April," said Bill Anderson, chief economist for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. "On the down side, the labor force continued to drop, adding to the roughly 44,000 who exited the work force in the last 12 months.

Nevada's economy is at least beginning to align with national trends, he said.

"As expected, Nevada lags the recovery, but the gap, at least measured by the unemployment rate, is beginning to narrow," Anderson said.

The state's jobless rate peaked at 14.9 percent December.

Unemployment in the Las Vegas area was 12.1 percent in April. That's down a full 3 percentage points from the same month a year ago and 1.3 percentage points from March.

The April jobless rate fell to 11.7 percent in the Reno and Carson City area, down from 13.1 percent and 13.2 percent, respectively, from the previous month. Elko's jobless rate was at 6.9 percent.

Nationally, the unemployment rate was 9 percent.

The report said Nevada added 3,500 jobs in April, down sharply from 11,000 in March.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said the report shows "welcome progress, and one more sign that the economic recovery continues to take hold."

Accommodations and food services industries added 4,600 jobs during the month, while retailers added 600 positions.

Nevada's once booming construction industry has been particularly hard hit by the Great Recession. The report said another 2,100 building jobs were lost during the month, erasing some gains in the previous two months. Over the past year, more than 7,000 construction jobs have eroded, adding to the tens of thousands that have been lost since the recession began in late 2007.

Likewise, the normally stable wholesale industry shed 1,200 jobs, while financial industries lost 700, the report said.