VAN WERT - Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped four-tenths of a percentage point in February, continuing the downward trend in 2014.

The state’s jobless rate stood at 6.5 percent during the month, down from 6.9 percent in January and 7.2 percent in December of 2013. The current jobless rate is an improvement over the same period in 2013 when 7.3 percent of eligible Ohio residents were searching for work.

The number of unemployed workers in February in Ohio decreased by 18,000 from 395,000 to 377,000 from the previous month. Over the past year the number of unemployed in the state has dropped by 44,000.

The movement in Ohio’s jobless rate moved opposite of the national average. The official U.S. unemployment rate, defined by the U-3 method which counts only the unemployed who still have remaining jobless benefits, rose slightly from 6.6 percent to 6.7 percent in February.

There were 4,600 fewer non-farm workers employed, decreasing the number from an adjusted 5,284,600 in January to a total of 5,280,000. Losses were also reported in the goods-producing sector (-4,700) as well as construction (-8,100), mining and logging (-300), financial activities (-2,300), and leisure and hospitality (-1,200). Local government employment (-3,400) and federal government employment (-600) also saw decreases while the state government employment numbers stayed the same.

Those losses were partially overcome by gains in manufacturing (+3,700), education and health services (+2,600), trade/transportation/utilities (+2,400), professional/business/other services (+2,400), and information services (+200).

The monthly changes mirrored what has happened in Ohio over the past 12 months with goods-producing, manufacturing, and the professional services sectors continuing to increase the number of employed while the number of local, state, and federal employees has declined (-5,900). In the past year, non-farm employment has grown in Ohio by 50,000 people.

The county-by-county breakdown for unemployment will be released next Tuesday, March 25.

(All data and statistics are produced by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services and the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.)