Unemployment in Johnson County has dropped slightly from a year ago.

And several industrial and retail projects have been announced this winter as companies are launching new locations or expansions that will help add jobs in the coming years.

The local jobless rate in February dipped to 5.2 percent, down about a half a percentage point from January and a year ago, according to a report from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

Among central Indiana counties, Johnson County’s rate is in the middle. Hamilton, Boone and Hendricks counties all have lower unemployment rates, while Hancock, Shelby, Morgan and Marion counties are higher, the report said. All central Indiana counties have seen their unemployment rates drop since last year.

Johnson County is still beating the statewide unemployment rate, which decreased to 6.1 percent in February.

On the industrial side, three Franklin companies recently have announced plans to grow or relocate in the city starting this summer. Biotechnology firm B2S Life Sciences plans to move to downtown Franklin, bringing 40 professional jobs, such as lab workers and financial staff, to the city. Smaller industrial firms include Trueblood Oil, which will start up a new manufacturing site in Franklin this summer, while Overton Tube Forming Systems also announced a small expansion.

Retail and commercial expansion also has been booming lately. While a new Walmart on State Road 135 is expected to open this summer, Kroger is planning two new locations in Johnson County and already is building a new store just north of County Line Road. New development around Emerson Avenue and County Line Road also has taken off, with a Costco, Goodwill outlet store, Taco Bell, Zaxby’s chicken restaurant and Point Blank indoor shooting range all launching new projects around the area.

In Indiana, the labor force, people working or seeking work, has grown and the percentage of Hoosiers in the workforce has exceeded the national average for 11 straight months, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

“Indiana‚Äôs consistent private sector growth, particularly over the past two years, is an encouraging trend. Equally as important is the fact that during that time, our labor force has also grown by 82,000 individuals, which is one of the largest increases in the nation. Hoosiers, encouraged by the availability of good jobs, are re-engaging in the workforce,” Steven J. Braun, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, said in a news release.

By the numbers

Here’s a look at the unemployment rates in central Indiana:

Johnson County

February: 5.2 percent

January: 5.6

February 2014: 5.6

Boone County

February: 4.7

January: 5.2

February 2014: 5.2

Hamilton County

February: 4.1

January: 4.6

February 2014: 4.5

Hancock County

February: 5.4

January: 5.9

February 2014: 6

Hendricks County

February: 4.8

January: 5.3

February 2014: 5.2

Marion County

February: 6.3

January: 6.8

February 2014: 7.3

Morgan County

February: 6.3

January: 6.7

February 2014: 7.2

Shelby County

February: 5.8

January: 6.3

February 2014: 6.7

SOURCE: Indiana Department of Workforce Development