Arkansas' Unemployment Rate at 7.1 Percent in February

The state Department of Workforce Services said Monday that Arkansas' unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point from 7.3 percent in January to 7.1 percent in February.

According to the report (PDF), the state's civilian labor force increased by 2,500, a result of 5,400 more employed and 2,900 fewer unemployed Arkansans.

The U.S. jobless rate increased one-tenth of a percentage point during the same period, rising from 6.6 percent in January to 6.7 percent in February.

The U.S. Department of Labor will release unemployment data for March on Friday. Monday's Arkansas report follows a U.S. Labor Department report that came out Friday showing unemployment rates down in 29 states in February.

"Arkansas' unemployment rate has been steadily decreasing since October 2013, while employment has increased and the number of unemployed has declined," DWS Communications Director Becky Heflin said in a news release. "There are currently 7,400 more employed Arkansans than this time last year."

The report said that since February 2013, Arkansas gained 9,600 nonfarm payroll jobs, and  employment increased in six major industry sectors, offsetting declines in four sectors:

Leisure and hospitality posted the largest growth, up by 3,800 jobs. Most of the gains, 3,000, were in food services.

Trade, transportation and utilities added 2,800 jobs. Retail and wholesale trade accounted for the increases.

Jobs in educational and health services rose by 2,600, with a majority of the growth occurred in health care and social assistance including hospitals, nursing care facilities and child day cares.