- Associated Press - Thursday, January 23, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island’s unemployment rate ticked up to 9.1 percent in December, and the state shed 1,500 jobs, the labor department said Thursday.

The state Department of Labor and Training said the jobless rate climbed one-tenth of 1 percentage point from November - an unwelcome statistic in a state that has struggled for years with one of the country’s highest unemployment rates.

The number of Rhode Island jobs was 469,200, a loss of 1,500 from the revised November estimate of 470,700. Jobs were up 3,600 over the year.

The educational services, construction and other services sectors each reported a loss of 400 jobs in December, according to the report. The accommodation and food services sector reported a gain of 300 jobs, while 200 jobs were added in the retail trade sector.

Meanwhile, the labor force numbered 550,500, down 300 from November and down 12,700 from last December. The number of unemployed residents was 49,900, up 400 from November. The number of unemployed residents fell 5,700 compared with a year ago.

Donna Murray, an assistant director for the department, called the report disappointing but said the long-term trend is more positive.

“One month is not a trend, and we like to look at the long-term trend, which is heading in the right direction,” she said.

She said some upward revisions in job growth through the end of last year are expected.

The U.S. unemployment rate in December was 6.7 percent.

The jobless rate in Rhode Island was 9.9 percent a year ago. The state’s November rate of 9 percent has been tied with Nevada’s for the highest in the U.S.

Through September, the state gained back only about 39 percent of the nearly 40,000 jobs it lost in the recession.