MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont’s unemployment rate was 2.6% for May, a decrease from 2.9% for April, the state Labor Department reported Wednesday.

The rate put Vermont back to pre-pandemic levels, Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington said.

“This is not completely unexpected as the work search was reinstated in May 2021 and a number of COVID work search exemptions were still in place at the time," Harrington said in a statement.

“Before COVID, the Vermont labor market had a historically low unemployment rate and was experiencing a shortage of workers," Harrington added. “We are now seeing similar conditions as restrictions have lifted and businesses across all industries look to move past this recent global health event."

The seasonally adjusted Vermont data for May show the Vermont civilian labor force increased by 378 from April. The number of employed people increased by 1,296 and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 918.

The May unemployment rates for Vermont’s 17 labor market areas ranged from 1.2% in Barre-Montpelier, Burlington-South Burlington, and Middlebury to 2.4% in Woodstock.

Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for May 2021 was 5.8%, a decrease of 0.3 percentage points from the April rate.