- Associated Press - Thursday, February 27, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island’s jobless rate for 2013 has been revised upward to 9.5 percent, and new data show the monthly rate never dipped below 9 percent last year as previously reported, state labor officials said Thursday.

Statistics released by the state Department of Labor and Training show the average annual rate is four-tenths of a point higher than initially calculated. The revised data show the jobless rate reached a high of 9.6 percent in three separate months, rather than a high of 9.8 percent in January.

“Certainly the recovery in Rhode Island is frustratingly slow,” said DLT Director Charlie Fogarty.

The revised low was 9.3 percent in December. Officials had previously reported the rate that month as 9.1 percent - which was the highest in the U.S.

The earlier data showed the unemployment rate four times falling below 9 percent in 2013, to a low of 8.8 percent in both April and June.

The labor department does an annual revision of unemployment data. Federal statistics being released Friday will show where Rhode Island’s 2013 rate ranked.

The state has struggled with one of the country’s worst jobless rates for years, and Gov. Lincoln Chafee and lawmakers have promised urgent action to bring it down. Rhode Island’s January unemployment rate will be announced next week.

“Certainly no one is happy when the unemployment rate is that high,” Fogarty said. “We’re hoping that as we go forward in 2014 that the rate continues to decline. We have far too many people who want to work and don’t have opportunities.”

The number of Rhode Island-based jobs was revised upward by 3,100 to 470,800, what Fogarty called a spot of good news in an otherwise disappointing report.

But the labor force shrunk by nearly 10,000 - more than initially reported - from a peak of 560,000 in January to 550,100 in December. That’s the lowest level since June 2002, officials said.

In addition, the number of employed residents fell by 7,100, from 506,200 in January and February to 499,100 in December.

A spokeswoman for Chafee didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment. In his annual state of the state address in January, the Democratic governor said Rhode Island is “on the upswing” with respect to its economic recovery.



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