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Fifth-highest unemployment for R.I.

Despite record joblessness in the state, Rhode Island fell from third to fifth in national unemployment rankings, according to information released last week by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data from the month of February shows that the state is tied for fifth place with California, with an unemployment rate of 10.5 percent.

In September and October of 2008, Rhode Island posted the highest jobless rate in the nation. In November and December, the state ranked second and by January 2009 had fallen to third nationwide.

The drop in ranking comes as unemployment rates continue to rise in Rhode Island - February's jobless rate was the highest for the state since such record-keeping began in 1976. Nearly 60,000 Rhode Islanders are unemployed, and a poll conducted last month by Brown's Taubman Center for Public Policy found that 66 percent of Rhode Islanders had a friend or family member who recently lost his or her job.

But other states have seen even more dramatic increases in joblessness.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Michigan led the nation in February with a jobless rate of 12 percent, followed by South Carolina (11.0 percent), Oregon (10.8 percent) and North Carolina (10.7 percent).

The national unemployment rate stands at 8.1 percent, representing a quarter-century high.

The recently passed federal stimulus bill is expected to create or save 12,000 jobs in Rhode Island and 3 to 4 million in the nation, according to a White House press release last month.

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