Seasonal spring hiring reduced Maryland's unemployment rate in April to 4.1 percent -- the lowest rate for an April since 1973, officials reported yesterday.

The labor force and employment levels hit new all-time highs in April, "as Maryland's labor market continued to show signs of renewed vigor with seasonal springtime expansion increasing the overall pace of hiring activity," the state Department of Employment and Training said.

The Maryland jobless rate dropped from March's 4.9 percent, consistent with the national estimate that showed unemployment falling from 6.9 percent in March to 6.2 percent in April. New jobseekers were able to find work, as the number of jobless decreased by nearly 17,000 and those working increased by 42,000.

Most of the job gains were seen in the hotel and lodging industries, and in the amusement and recreation, health and agricultural services.

The unemployment rate for the District suburbs declined from 3.3 percent to 3 percent in April, while the unemployment rate on the Eastern Shore declined by 1.9 percent to 5.8 percent.

The largest decline was in Worcester County, where the rate dipped from 12.3 percent to 6.4 percent, as employers geared up for the Ocean City tourist season.

The western Maryland rate also declined, from 9.3 percent to 7.4 percent in April.