The jobless rate in the Salem area dropped once more in February.

The rate fell to 9.1 percent in February after a revised rate of 9.3 percent in January. It’s 1.2 percentage points lower than the reported unemployment rate for February 2011.

Statistics are provided by Worksource Oregon, and are for the Salem Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes Keizer.

An estimates 19,789 residents of Marion and Polk counties were unemployed in a labor force of 198,948 for the month. According to Worksource Oregon, some 1,587 fewer people were considered unemployed in the area than in February 2011.

But job growth for the month was slower than is typical, said Pat O’Connor, a regional economist for the state of Oregon. Total nonfarm employment increased by about 900 jobs, when normally that figure is closer to 1,300. Government jobs gained 400 positions.

In the past 12 months, some 1,200 new jobs in the private sector were offset by the same number of job losses in public service.

In key sectors:

• Educational and health services gained 1,000 jobs in the past year.

• Manufacturing employment shed 1,500 jobs in the past year.

• Construction lost 100 jobs in February and 400 jobs in the past year.