Vermont's unemployment rate fell again in January, dropping to 4 percent.

The rate is low compared to the 6.6 percent national average - the fifth-lowest in the nation and the lowest in New England.

It was the fourth monthly decrease in a row in the state's unemployment rate, according to the latest numbers from the Department of Labor. And the state gained about 350 workers - the first increase in the labor force since late 2011, though the numbers are subject to revision.

"The January numbers start the year on a positive note," Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan said in a news release. "Hopefully we continue to grow a resilient economy with diverse employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for Vermonters. We are still working to ensure that all Vermonters can access employment opportunities and achieve wage growth."

The unemployment rate and labor force estimates are based on household surveys conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics before IBM announced its latest round of layoffs in late February. Any job losses from the Essex Junction plant likely will not surface before March numbers are released in April. February's report is due out in late March.