Rhode Island's unemployment rate ticked down to 10.2% in December as the number of employed residents grew to its highest level since February 2009, the Department of Labor and Training reported Thursday.
The state's jobless rate remained more than two points higher than the national average, which held steady at 7.8% in December. Massachusetts' unemployment rate grew to 6.7% while Connecticut's unemployment rate dipped to 8.6%.
Unemployment in Rhode Island peaked at 11.9% in January 2010, according to the department.
The state's workforce increased by 2,200 residents, the fifth straight month the state has experienced growth. The number of unemployed Rhode Islanders dropped to 57,800, down 900 from November and 4,300 for the year.
Rhode Island's labor force, which is made up of all employed residents as well as those looking for work, grew by 1,300 to 566,200, its highest level since December 2010 – though still below its December 2006 high of 577,158.
The jobs numbers came a day after Governor Lincoln Chafee proposed lowering the state's corporate income tax from 9% to 7% over the next three year during his annual State of the State address. Chafee said he is confident the plan will help create jobs for Rhode Islanders.
"I would not make this recommendation if I did not truly believe that in the long run it will result in a stronger economy, more Rhode Islanders working, and fewer of our citizens in need of state support," Chafee said.