- Associated Press - Thursday, April 17, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island’s unemployment rate edged down in March to 8.7 percent, the lowest since September 2008, but the number of jobs also declined, state officials reported Thursday.

The state Department of Labor and Training said the jobless rate fell three-tenths of 1 percentage point from February.

The number of unemployed residents was down 1,100 from February’s revised figure, to 48,500. That’s the eighth straight month of decline and 4,500 fewer jobless than a year ago, according to the employment report. It’s also the lowest number of unemployed since August 2008.

The size of Rhode Island’s labor force was up 1,500, to 554,400. But that’s down 4,600 from a year ago.

The number of jobs in the state also was down 800 from the revised February estimate, to 475,800. The accommodation and food services sector lost 400 jobs, and the retail trade sector lost 300.

The U.S. unemployment rate for March was 6.7 percent, unchanged from February. A year ago it was 7.5 percent.

Rhode Island’s jobless rate a year ago was 9.5 percent. The state has had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country for years.

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