RI unemployment rate down for fifth straight month

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Rhode Island's unemployment rate fell in September for the fifth straight month to its lowest level in three-and-a-half years.

The state Department of Labor and Training reported Thursday the jobless rate fell to 10.5 percent, down from 10.7 in August. That's the lowest rate since April 2009.

The department said the number of Rhode Island jobs increased by 2,000, to 458,000, with the largest gain in professional and business services.

The number of employed residents was up 3,900, to 499,400. That's 400 more than a year ago. The size of the labor force was up 3,300, to 558,000, but down 4,800 from a year ago.

University of Rhode Island Professor Leonard Lardaro said this week he sees "real strength" in the state's economy.

The U.S. unemployment rate is 7.8 percent.