Orange County’s unadjusted unemployment rate fell to 3.1% in February, compared with a revised 3.2% in January but well below the 3.8% reported a year earlier, according to the state’s Employment Development Department.

The state’s unemployment rate was 4.5% while the U.S.’s was 4.4%. The most recent February numbers for the county, state and the U.S. are not seasonally adjusted.

Nonfarm OC employment increased 6,300 jobs month-over-month to 1.63 million.

Eight of 11 sectors reported increases. The biggest was a 4,500 increase in government workers, mostly local education workers returning to work after the holidays. Higher education and health services added another 2,200 jobs, led by increased employment at universities and professional schools.

The biggest decline was 3,800 in the trade, transportation and utilities sector. The subsector that fell the furthest month-over-month was general merchandise stores, which declined 8.1%, or 1,400 jobs, to 27,400, due to a seasonal decline in temporary workers after the holidays. That total is still better than the 27,200 reported for a year earlier.

Orange County's lowest-ever unemployment rate was 2.2% in December 1999.

About 17.1 million worked in California in February, an increase of 14,000 jobs over January and up 383,600 from a year earlier.

Statewide, six of 11 industry sectors added jobs month-over-month, led by professional and business services, up 8,300, and construction, up 6,800. Trade, transportation and utilities was the biggest sector decline, down 3,100 jobs.

People receiving unemployment benefits rose from 342,480 in January to 396,030. A year earlier, it was 405,196.