- Associated Press - Thursday, November 17, 2016

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Private-sector employment reached an all-time high as Rhode Island’s unemployment rate dropped slightly to 5.5 percent in October.

The state Department of Labor and Training said Thursday that unemployment was down one-tenth of a percentage point from the September rate of 5.6 percent.

But Rhode Island remained above the national rate of 4.9 percent.

Rhode Island now has about 431,900 private-sector jobs.

The department says that surpasses the peak pre-recession number of 430,800 in December 2006. The lowest number of private-sector jobs was 394,000 in October 2009, during the recession.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo said that regaining the private-sector jobs that were lost is a positive milestone that shows momentum.

“We will continue to build a strong economy that invests in the skills of our workers and the competitiveness of our employers,” she said in a statement Thursday.

The state says the total number of jobs based in Rhode Island increased by 1,700, to 492,400 in October, from the revised September estimate. This ends two consecutive months of declines, which totaled 800 jobs.

The highest total number of jobs was 495,700 in December 2006, and the lowest was 455,900 in August 2009, according to the department.

The state unemployment rate is down one-tenth of a percentage point from a year ago. The number of unemployed residents fell to 30,600 in October, a drop of 500 from September.

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