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Rhode Island unemployment climbs for second straight month

Rhode Island’s unemployment rate has once again ticked up.

The RI Department of Labor and Training said that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December 2011 was 10.8 percent, up three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month.

This marks the second consecutive monthly increase in the unemployment rate.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 8.5 percent in December, down two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and down nine-tenths of a percentage point from December 2010.

Despite the bad news, the rate is better than last year.

The December 2011 rate was down seven-tenths of a percentage point from the previous December, representing the 15th consecutive month of year-over-year decreases in the state’s unemployment rate.

The number of employed RI residents was unchanged over the November figures, remaining at 503,400 in December. Over the year, the number of employed RI residents was down 7,700 from December 2010.

The RI labor force totaled 564,200 in December 2011, up 1,500 from November but down 13,100 from December 2010 estimates. The labor force increase was due entirely to the increase in the number of unemployed residents. This is the third consecutive month that the RI labor force has increased, following nine consecutive months of decreases.

Over the year, total non-farm employment was up 500 from December 2010. Job gains were reported in six economic sectors over the year, including Professional & Business Services (+1,400), Construction (+900), Educational Services (+700), Wholesale Trade (+400), Transportation & Utilities (+200) and Accommodation & Food Services (+100).