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RI unemployment rate soars to 17%; state loses another 88K jobs


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis was further displayed Thursday as new data from the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT) showed the state’s unemployment rate rose 12.3 percentage points between March and April.

The unemployment rate was 17% last month, up from 4.7% the previous month and 3.6% in April 2019.

In addition, the number of Rhode Island-based jobs fell by 88,000.

The state has now lost nearly 100,000 jobs since February, according to the DLT, going from a record high of 508,400 down to 409,700, which the agency said is the lowest count since February 1984.

The number of unemployed Rhode Islanders has surpassed 90,000, an increase of nearly 64,000 since March, the DLT reports.

The 17% jobless figures marks the highest unemployment rate the state has seen in recent history. The state saw an unemployment rate of 11.3% in 2010 when the market was still reeling from the Great Recession.

The U.S. unemployment rate increased to 14.7% last month, which is the highest it’s been since the Great Depression.

Nearly 39 million people nationwide have filed for unemployment benefits since the outbreak began, including more than 2.4 million in the past week.

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