Colorado's jobless rate continued on its downward path in April, falling to 6.9 percent, the state Department of Labor and Employment reported Friday.

April's rate - the lowest since 6.7 percent in January 2009 - is down from 7.1 percent in March and 8.2 percent in April 2012. The rate is also lower than the national unemployment rate in April of 7.5 percent.

Nonfarm payroll jobs increased 11,600 in April to 2,362,700 jobs, according to the report. All of the gains were in the private sector; government jobs were unchanged.

The largest job gains were in professional and business services, other services, and leisure and hospitality. The largest decline was in trade, transportation and utilities.

The overall gains follow a loss of 2,000 jobs in March, revised downward from what was initially reported as a modest gain of 500 jobs.

"We have returned to strong over-the-month gains," said Alexandra Hall, chief economist for the Department of Labor and Employment. If federal budget cuts that began taking effect March 1 are having an impact on job numbers, "there is other economic activity that is making up for that," she said.

With the latest gains, Colorado is just 800 jobs shy of regaining the nearly 155,000 jobs lost during the Great Recession, she said.

Job estimates are based on a survey of business establishments and government agencies. The unemployment rate is based on a survey of households.

Colorado is among 40 states that saw unemployment rates fall in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate rose in three states and remained the same in the other seven.

Nevada had the highest unemployment rate among the states in April, at 9.6 percent. North Dakota continued to have the lowest, with a jobless rate of 3.3 percent.