Orange County employers added 9,800 jobs in March, helping drive down the unemployment rate to 4.4%.

The local rate, which is not seasonally adjusted, compares with 4.6% in February and 6% a year earlier, according to the state Employment Development Department.

The county has 1,533,400 jobs, up by about 55,200, or nearly 4%, from a year earlier.

The construction industry added 2,000 jobs, more than any other business sector. Specialty trade contractors accounted for more than half of the increase. The sector has grown 6% over the past year to 84,900 jobs.

Manufacturing businesses added 1,900 jobs for a total of 162,100. Makers of durable goods accounted for about 80% of the gain. The number of jobs in the sector grew about 3% year-over-year.

The educational and health services sector also added 1,900 jobs, with healthcare and social assistance accounting for 70% of the growth. The sector has 200,300 jobs, up about 6% over the year.

Businesses in leisure and hospitality added 1,200 jobs for a total of 196,000, up 3% year-over-year.

The professional and business services sector added 1,000 jobs for a total of 282,600. The largest business sector in Orange County grew about 4% over the year.

The financial services sector was the only category with a decrease in job numbers last month. It cut 500 jobs for a total of 116,600. It’s up 4% over the year.

California’s unadjusted jobless rate was 6.5%, compared with 6.8% in February and 8.3% a year earlier.

Nationwide, the unadjusted rate was 5.6%, down from 5.8% in February and 6.8% a year ago.

Seasonally adjusted numbers, which are more widely reported, indicate California’s jobless rate was 6.5% and the nationwide rate 5.5%.