PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island’s 9 percent unemployment rate again ranked as the highest in the country in February, and Rhode Island was the only state to post a seasonally adjusted jobless rate at or above 9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.
Rhode Island joined five other states with a jobless rate measurably higher than the national rate of 6.7 percent. Illinois posted the second-highest rate at 8.7 percent for February, while the lowest state unemployment rate, 2.6 percent, was recorded in North Dakota.
The R.I. Department of Labor and Training reported last week that Rhode Island’s unemployment rate dropped in February to a seasonally adjusted 9 percent from 9.2 percent a month before. On a year-over-year basis, Rhode Island’s jobless rate declined half a percentage point.
Forty-eight U.S. states and the District of Columbia reported lower unemployment rates in February compared with a month earlier, while Iowa and Missouri reported a slight increase in their jobless rates.
In Massachusetts, the unemployment rate fell to 6.5 percent in February, dropping below the national rate for the first time since October. In January, the Massachusetts unemployment rate was 6.8 percent and in February 2013 the rate was 6.9 percent.
Among the six New England states, Vermont boasted the region’s lowest unemployment rate, at 3.7 percent, followed by New Hampshire with 4.7 percent and Maine with 6.1 percent. Connecticut ranked fifth, below Massachusetts, with 7 percent.
The national unemployment rate rose in February to 6.7 percent compared with 6.6 percent in January.
In a ranking of the nine census divisions in the nation, New England ranked dead-center for its seasonally-adjusted jobless rate of 6.4 percent. West North Central (5 percent) registered the lowest regional rate, followed by West South Central (5.6 percent), South Atlantic (6.1 percent) and Mountain (6.3 percent) regions.
The highest unemployment rate by division was 7.6 percent, recorded in the Pacific region.