Arkansas’ unemployment rate drops


LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’ unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point to 7.1 percent in February, according to labor statistics released Monday.

The state’s jobless rate in February was higher than the national jobless rate of 6.7 percent, which is up one-tenth of a percentage point from January. Arkansas’ unemployment rate was down from the February 2013 state jobless rate of 7.5 percent, the state Department of Workforce Services said.

“Arkansas’ unemployment rate has been steadily decreasing since October 2013, while employment has increased and the number of unemployed has declined,” said DWS spokeswoman Becky Heflin. “There are currently 7,400 more employed Arkansans than this time last year.”

The agency said 1.2 million Arkansans were employed in February and 94,100 were unemployed.

Nine major industry sectors posted gains in February, while four posted slight declines. The biggest increase was in government, which increased by 5,100 jobs as public schools and universities returned to full capacity after the holiday break.

Leisure and hospitality jobs increased by 900 jobs in February, a typical seasonal increase.

The largest decrease was in trade, transportation and utilities, which lost 900 jobs in February, most of them attributed to a typical post-holiday decline in retail employment.