Maryland's unemployment rate dropped a full percentage point in April, falling to the lowest level since September 1981.

The unemployment rate dropped from 8.2 percent in March to 7.2 percent in April, according to the state's Employment Security Administration. State officials said the sharply lower rate is evidence of an acceleration in the state's economic recovery.

The decline was the largest monthly drop ever recorded between March and April, analysts said.

State officials said that improvements in manufacturing, construction, transportation and government employment contributed to the sharp decrease in unemployment. Seasonal hiring by restaurants, hotels and recreation sites and in wholesale trade, construction and landscaping, agriculture and other industries also helped, state analysts said.

The rate was far lower than the national unemployment rate among civilians, which was 10.2 percent in April.

Even so, officials noted that the rate was not terribly low by Maryland standards and was the same as the jobless rate recorded in April 1975, during the depths of another recession.

In the Washington suburbs, unemployment continued to be lower than the state's overall jobless rate, dropping from 4.6 percent in March to 4.1 percent in April. Montgomery County had the lowest rate at 3.3 percent, down from 3.7 percent the previous month.

The jobless rate in Prince George's County was 4.8 percent, down from 5.4 percent, and the jobless rate in Charles County dropped from 5.4 percent to 4.6 percent.

The highest unemployment rate in the state was in Somerset County where 22.8 percent of the would-be employed were out of a job. Unemployment continued high in Western Maryland, but declined in those counties. It also declined in all 11 counties on the Eastern Shore and in Southern Maryland except for Queene Anne's county.