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RI Jobless Rate Under 10 Pct; 1st Time Since '09

By ERIKA NIEDOWSKI

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) â¿¿ Rhode Island's unemployment rate has dipped under 10 percent for the first time since February 2009 under revised labor statistics released Thursday by the state.

The Department of Labor and Training released new data Thursday showing that the jobless rate in December was 9.9 percent, not 10.2 percent as originally reported.

The new data also show the number of Rhode Island-based jobs was 465,600 in December, 6,800 higher than the original estimates.

Charlie Fogarty, the DLT director, said more needs to be done to make sure the economy keeps moving in the right direction. "No one is satisfied with the fact that we're at 9.9 percent," he said.

But Fogarty added that the state has crossed below an important psychological barrier of 10 percent unemployment, which he said should help build people's confidence that things are improving.

Rhode Island has been tied with Nevada for having the country's highest unemployment rate; the national jobless rate in December was 7.9 percent. Job numbers for all 50 states being released on Friday will show whether the state has lost its dubious distinction.

"You want to be No. 1 in job growth. You want to be number one in terms of economic growth," Fogarty said. "We have to keep at it until we get there."

The revised statistics show that Rhode Island's unemployment rate declined steadily throughout 2012 from a high of 10.8 percent in January. Labor statistics had initially shown an uptick last spring.

Labor officials say they overestimated the number of employed Rhode Islanders by 800 in December but underestimated it for 10 out of the 12 months.

However, officials overestimated by an average of 1,400 each month the size of the state's labor force. In January 2012, it was 558,100, the lowest level of the recession.

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