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By Emily Greenhalgh
PBN Web Editor
WASHINGTON - Unemployment rates were lower year-over-year in February for 344 of the 372 metropolitan areas, including the Providence-Fall River-Warwick metro area, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday.
The unemployment rate for the Providence-Fall River-Warwick metro area fell 0.1 percentage points from 12.1 percent to 12 percent in February 2012.
As a whole, Rhode Island saw the opposite change, with the unemployment rate rising 0.1 percentage points from 12 percent to 12.1 percent in February 2012.
Nationally, 13 metropolitan areas recorded jobless rates of at least 15 percent, while 12 areas registered rates of less than 5 percent.
In the New Bedford metropolitan area, the February unemployment rate was 11.8 percent, compared with 12.8 percent in 2011.
Two hundred sixty-seven metropolitan areas reported year-over-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment. Ninety-eight – including the Providence-Fall River-Warwick area – reported decreases, and seven metro areas reported no change between 2011 and 2012.
At the same time, the BLS reported that the unemployment rate in February represented a gain of four-tenths of a percentage point from the January rate of 11.6 percent.
The national unemployment rate in February was 8.7 percent, not seasonally adjusted, down from 9.5 percent in 2011.
Across the country, 205 metro areas recorded February unemployment rates below the U.S. average, 158 reported rates above it and 9 areas had unemployment rates matching the national average.