Rhode Island unemployment rate falls to 7%; state adds jobs

CRANSTON, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s unemployment rate fell to 7% and the state added 1,700 jobs in October, the Department of Labor and Training announced Thursday.

While the October unemployment rate was well below September’s rate of 10.5%, it remained much higher than the 3.5% rate in October 2019.

The state’s unemployment rate last month was slightly higher than the national rate of 6.9%.

The number of unemployed Rhode Island residents — people classified as available for and actively seeking employment — was 37,800 in October, almost 21,000 fewer than in September.

Rhode Island has now regained more than 59% of the more than 98,000 jobs lost in March and April when the economy shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The professional and business services sector added the most jobs last month, followed by transportation and utilities, driven in large part by the return of school bus drivers who had been idle since April.

The retail, accommodation and food services, and construction sectors also added jobs in October.

The health care and social assistance, as well as the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors lost the most jobs last month.