PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The unemployment rate in Rhode Island continued to inch downward in October, posting its sixth straight month of decline, but the director of the state labor department said Thursday the economy still has a long way to go to recover.
The Department of Labor and Training reported the jobless rate was 10.4 percent in October, down from 10.5 percent the month before. That’s the lowest rate in 3½ years.
Labor and Training Director Charles Fogarty said the best news is the number of employed Rhode Island residents, which was up 5,200 from September, to 504,700. That’s the largest monthly increase since statistics have been recorded.
The size of the labor force was also up 5,300, to 563,400, according to the new report.
Still, the number of Rhode Island jobs was down 2,500, to 457,000, from the revised September estimate. Officials said they may not have had a complete sample and that the number of jobs could be revised upward next month.
Fogarty said the October report, taken as a whole, points to a trend of economic improvement.
‘‘Obviously, we want it to be a more vigorous recovery,’’ he said. ‘‘We were in a deep hole. We have a long way to go.’’
The U.S. unemployment rate in October was 7.9 percent.
The jobless rate in Rhode Island a year ago at this time was 11.2 percent.