Maine’s unemployment rate dropped slightly in March to 7.1 percent and fared better than the national rate.

The state’s unemployment rate fell from 7.3 percent in both February and March 2012. The U.S. unemployment rate in March was 7.6 percent, little changed from 7.7 percent in February and down from 8.2 percent a year ago.

For New England overall, the unemployment rate was 6.9 percent. The rates ranged from 4.1 percent in Vermont to 9.1 percent in Rhode Island.

The not seasonally adjusted unemployment for Maine was 7.6 percent in March, down from 8.2 percent a year ago. The rates ranged from 5.9 percent in Cumberland Country to 11.7 percent in Washington County.

The unemployment rate was below the statewide average in all three metropolitan areas: Portland-South Portland-Biddeford totaled 6.2 percent; Bangor was 7.1 percent and Lewiston-Auburn’s rate was 7.2 percent.

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