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March Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.8 Percent; Rhode Island-Based Jobs Down 300 from February (pdf)

April 18, 2019



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

Mar. 2019


Feb. 2019


Mar. 2018



The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March is down one-tenth of a percentage point at 3.8 percent, the Department of Labor and Training announced Thursday. Over the year, the unemployment rate is down four-tenths of a percentage point from the March 2018 rate of 4.2 percent.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.8 percent in March 2019, unchanged from the previous month and down two-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 21,200, down 700 from February. Over the year, the number of unemployed decreased by 2,300.

A total of 12,000 individuals collected Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits in March 2019*, an increase from the 11,656 filed a year ago.This month, UI claimants accounted for 59.2 percent of the total unemployed.

The number of employed Rhode Island residents was 532,900, down 600 from February. Over the year, the number of employed Rhode Island residents was up 700 from March 2018 (532,200).

The Rhode Island labor force totaled 554,100 in March 2019, down 1,300 from February 2019, and down 1,500 from March 2018 (555,600). 






In March, the number of Rhode Island-based jobs totaled 494,900, a decrease of 300 jobs from the revised February job count of 495,200. The state job count is down 1,000 from March 2018.

The Professional & Business Services sector lost 1,100 jobs in March, following a loss of 1,000 jobs in February and a loss of 1,000 jobs in January. The sector’s loss of 3,100 jobs during the first quarter of 2019 can be attributed to the Administrative & Waste Services subsector, which accounted for all the declines. Employment in Professional & Business Services is down 2,200 from a year ago.

The number of jobs in Educational Services fell by 400 in March, followed by smaller losses of 100 jobs each in the Financial Activities and Health Care & Social Assistance sectors. Year over year, all three sectors are up in employment led by Health Care & Social Assistance (+1,000), Educational Services (+300) and Financial Activities (+200).

Employment remained unchanged in the Arts, Entertainment & Recreation, Information and Transportation & Utilities sectors. Over the year, the number of jobs is down 700 in Arts, Entertainment & Recreation, up 700 in Transportation & Utilities and unchanged in Information.

Job gains in March were reported in several industry sectors, led by the Other Services and Government sectors, each up 300 jobs. Both sectors noted strong year-over-year job gains, as Others Services employment is up 900 from a year ago and Government employment is up 700. Also, in March, 300 jobs were added to the Retail Trade sector, while the number of jobs is down 200 from March 2018.

Five sectors reported an increase of 100 jobs in March. Those sectors include Accommodation & Food Services, Construction, Manufacturing, Mining & Logging and Wholesale Trade. Among these sectors, job numbers are up in Construction (+200) and Wholesale Trade (+100) over the year, down in Manufacturing (-1,200) and Accommodation & Food Services (-800) over the year, and unchanged in Mining & Logging.


In March 2019, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $19.87 per hour, up thirty cents from February 2019, and up forty-two cents from March 2018.

Manufacturing employees worked an average of 37.6 hours per week in March, down one and four-tenth hours over the month, and down nine-tenths of an hour from a year ago.

*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.


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 U.S. 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’ March labor force data and job counts on April 19, 2019. The Department of Labor and Training is scheduled to release the April 2019 labor force figures and job counts at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 16, 2019.


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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