State unemployment rate remains at 7.2 percent


LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’ unemployment rate held steady at 7.2 percent in February, according to labor statistics released Friday.

The state jobless rate was 0.5 percentage points below the national rate, which dropped from 7.9 percent in January to 7.7 percent in February.

“While Arkansas’ unemployment rate remained steady, the rate is one-tenth of a percentage point lower than it was in February 2012,” said Kimberly Friedman, spokeswoman for the state Department of Workforce Services. “The rate is significantly lower than in February 2011, when the rate was 8.0 percent.”

DWS reported that 1.34 million Arkansans were employed in February and 96,500 were unemployed.

Job increases were reported in seven major industry sectors, with the biggest increase, 5,200, in government. Most of the increase occurred in state government, with 4,600 jobs added, as public school employment returned to normal levels after the winter break.

Jobs in professional and business services rose by 2,100. The majority of that was in administrative and support services, with 1,500 jobs added, and was related to gains in employment services and business services.

Leisure and hospitality added 1,100 jobs, a typical seasonal increase. Employment in the other services dropped by 1,600.