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State unemployment rate drops to 7.1%

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was published March 31, 2014 at 9:34 a.m.

Arkansas unemployment fell to 7.1 percent in February, dropping despite a small uptick in the national unemployment rate.

The Department of Workforce Services said Monday that the February state unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point from 7.3 percent in January.

In the same period, the U.S. unemployment rate increased from 6.6 percent to 6.7 percent.

The monthly Arkansas unemployment rate was down from 7.5 percent a year ago.

The civilian labor force, which is a sum of employed and unemployed Arkansans, increased by 2,500 in February. There were 5,400 more employed Arkansans and 2,900 fewer unemployed Arkansans.

There were 6,200 nonfarm payroll jobs added in February, including 5,100 government jobs. Trade, transportation and utilities had the largest decline of any sector tracked by the Department of Workforce Services. That sector had 900 fewer jobs in February than in January.

Becky Heflin, a spokesman for the workforce agency, said the unemployment rate has been "steadily decreasing" since October.

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