- Associated Press - Thursday, September 14, 2017

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island’s unemployment rate has kept steady at 4.3 percent.

The state Department of Labor and Training said Thursday that the jobless rate for August was the same as in July. The state’s unemployment rate was below the national rate of 4.4 percent in August, which was up one-tenth of a percentage point from July.

Rhode Island’s rate was down one percentage point from a year ago.

The number of jobs remained unchanged in August from the revised July employment figure, 499,700. A loss of 500 jobs in the government sector was offset by a gain of 500 private sector jobs.

The number of jobs overall was up 9,300 from a year ago, including 3,200 jobs in construction.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo on Thursday praised the growth in the construction industry, but said the state needs to continue its efforts to make sure every resident has the skills to compete in the changing economy.

“There is a lot of encouraging news in this jobs report, but also clear signals that we have to keep working to strengthen the middle class,” she said in a statement.

The southern New England retail chain Benny’s announced last week that it’s closing its 31 stores.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced Tuesday that it’s relocating its headquarters from New Haven, Connecticut, to Boston and cutting 20 percent of its global workforce. The cuts amount to about 600 positions, and the closure of a Smithfield, Rhode Island, manufacturing facility.

Rhode Island’s labor force totaled 556,400 in August, down 600 from July and up 3,900 from August 2016.

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