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February Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.9 Percent; Rhode Island-Based Jobs Down 600 from January (pdf)

March 21, 2019



RI Unemployment Rate
US Unemployment Rate
RI Job Count (in thousands)

Feb. 2019


Jan. 2019


Feb. 2018



The Department of Labor and Training announced today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February 2019 was 3.9 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from the January rate. Over the year, the unemployment rate is down four-tenths of a percentage point from the February 2018 rate of 4.3 percent.

The US unemployment rate was 3.8 percent in February 2019, down two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and down three-tenths of a percentage point over the year.

The number of unemployed Rhode Island residents — those residents classified as available for and actively seeking employment — was 21,900, down 400 from January. Over the year, the number of unemployed decreased by 2,100.

A total of 13,663 individuals collected Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits in February 2019*, a decrease from the 13,959 filed a year ago. This month, UI claimants accounted for 57.9 percent of the total unemployed.

The number of employed Rhode Island residents was 533,400, down 500 from January. Over the year, the number of employed Rhode Island residents was up 1,800 from February 2018 (531,600).

The Rhode Island labor force totaled 555,300 in February 2019, down 800 from January 2019, and down 300 from February 2018 (555,600).





In February, the number of Rhode Island-based jobs totaled 494,600, a decrease of 600 jobs from the revised January job count of 495,200. Over the year, the state job count is down 1,600, marking the first year-over-year decrease since June 2010.

The number of jobs in the Retail Trade sector fell by 900 in February, fueled by losses reported in department stores. Those department store losses include an anchor store at the Providence Place Mall which closed its doors in January. Jobs in Retail Trade are down 900 from February 2018.

Large job declines continued in the Professional & Business Services sector, which shed 800 jobs in February, after losing 1,000 jobs in January. The Administrative & Waste Services, a subsector of Professional & Business Services, is solely responsible for the large job declines. Employment in Professional & Business Services is down 600 over the year.

Smaller job losses in February were noted in the Manufacturing, Other Services and Wholesale Trade sectors, losing 200 jobs each. Year over year, jobs are down in Manufacturing (-1,100) and Wholesale Trade (-200), while being up in the Other Services (+400) sector.

Jobs were down by 100 in the Accommodation & Food Services, Government and Mining & Logging sectors.

After reporting large job declines in January, both the Educational Services and Health Care & Social Assistance sectors responded by posting large gains in February. Educational Services recovered 600 of the 800 jobs lost in January, and Health Care & Social Assistance added 500 jobs in February after shedding 400 jobs in January. Both sectors are up in the number of jobs over the year, with Health Care & Social Assistance up 800 jobs and Educational Services up 700 jobs.

Also, in February, a gain of 500 jobs was reported in the Financial Activities sector. Since February 2018, employment in Financial Activities is up 200.

Employment in Transportation & Utilities grew by 200 in February, while employment in both Construction and Arts, Entertainment & Recreation sectors grew by 100. Jobs in Transportation & Utilities is up 800 from a year ago while being down in Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-700) and Construction (-100).

Employment in the Information sector remained unchanged in February but was down 200 from February 2018.

MANUFACTURING: In February 2019, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $19.33 per hour, down twenty-four cents from January 2019, but up forty-five cents from February 2018.

Manufacturing employees worked an average of 39.2 hours per week in February, up one and one-tenth hours over the month, but down one and seven-tenths hours from a year ago.


METHODOLOGY: The unemployment figures are based largely on a survey of households in Rhode Island and measure the unemployment status of people who live in the state. Unemployment rates prior to 1976 are not recognized by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as official since the methodology used at that time is not comparable to today’s methods. The establishment of employment figures is derived from a survey of businesses in Rhode Island and measures the number of jobs in the state. Rhode Island labor market information is available at www.dlt.ri.gov/lmi. Additional information on procedures for producing Current Employment Statistics (CES) estimates is available on the BLS website at www.bls.gov/sae/cesprocs.htm. BLS will be releasing all states’ February labor force data and job counts on March 22, 2019. The Department of Labor and Training is scheduled to release the March 2019 labor force figures and job counts at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 18, 2019.

*Refers to the number of new and reopened claims filed by UI beneficiaries and claims filed by those already collecting UI in the week that includes the 12th of the month.



ABOUT DLT: The RI Department of Labor and Training offers employment services, educational services and economic opportunities to both individuals and employers. DLT protects Rhode Island’s workforce by enforcing labor laws, prevailing wage rates and workplace health and safety standards. The department also provides temporary income support to unemployed and temporarily disabled workers. For more information, please call the RI Department of Labor and Training at (401) 462-8000 or visit the website at www.dlt.ri.gov


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