Updated February 26 at 5:26pm

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WORKFORCE

Unemployment rate drops in May

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CRANSTON – Rhode Island’s unemployment rate dropped for the first time in three months to 11 percent in May, a two-tenths of a percentage point decrease from April, the R.I. Department of Labor and Training reported Friday.

That number is a three-tenths percentage point decrease from May 2011 and ends a three-month series of small increases in seasonally-adjusted unemployment numbers.

Rhode Island’s employed population rose by 1,300 in May over revised April figures to 495,400, marking the first time in five months this number has increased and the largest over-the-month increase since February 2010.

However, the year-over-year number of employed residents was down by 4,800 from May 2011.

The state’s labor forced totaled 556,000 in May, up 500 from April and down 6,900 from May 2011 estimates.

A gain in jobs in accommodation and food services (800), manufacturing (200), transportation and utilities (200), information (100), arts, entertainment and recreation (100) and government (100) marked positive trends.

Job declines were reported in construction (600), retail trade (500), and healthcare and social assistance (500).

The average hourly production wage for manufacturing was up 27 cents, reaching $18.41, from April. Manufacturing employees worked an average of 39.9 hours per week, down one-tenth of an hour over the month but up seven-tenths of an hour from one year ago.

The U.S. unemployment rate for May was 8.2 percent, up from 8.1 percent in April but down from 9 percent in May 2011.

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