RALEIGH – North Carolina’s unemployment rate continues its steady decline and has reached a more than four-and-a-half-year low at 8.7 percent.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce announced Friday that the state’s unemployment rate saw a decrease of 0.2 percent from July to August. That followed the nation’s trend which fell from 7.4 to 7.3 percent.

Compared to a year ago, the state’s unemployment rate fell 0.9 percent from 9.6 to 8.7.

Employment increased in the state by more than 3,500 jobs in the month of August. The number of people claiming unemployment fell by more than 8,500.

County-by-county numbers for August are scheduled to be released October 2. In July, Orange County had the state’s third-lowest unemployment rate; Chatham County was second behind Currituck.