The state's top labor official says the improving national economy is finally spurring job growth and pushing the unemployment rate down in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island is nearing pre-recession employment levels. The state has added 1,200 jobs since June, bringing the number of non-farm jobs to 477,800. That's the highest number since September 2008.

Rhode Island's unemployment rate has been among the worst in the U.S. for years. Now with a rate of 7.7 percent, Rhode Island is tied for third. It's the lowest it's been since June 2008.

Department of Labor and Training Director Charles J. Fogarty said Rhode Island is late to benefit from the national trends because it was hit particularly hard by the housing market crash and the decline of U.S. manufacturing.