Rhode Island State Seal links to the DLT homepage

State of Rhode Island
Department of Labor and Training


Home Unemployment/TDI Workforce Development Governor's Workforce Board Regulation & Safety Workers' Comp Labor Market Information


Media Advisory

May Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.6 Percent;
Rhode Island-Based Jobs fell 600 from April (pdf)

June 20, 2019



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

May 2019


Apr. 2019


May 2018



The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for May fell one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.6 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 May 2018 rate of 4.0 percent.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in May 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 20,100, down 300 from April. Over the year, the number of unemployed decreased by 2,300.

“Preliminary estimates indicate that in May the Rhode Island unemployment rate was 3.6 percent – the lowest since April 1989. We need to continue investing in the talents of Rhode Islanders because that is how we build a resilient economy,” said Department of Labor and Training Director Scott Jensen.

A total of 7,381 individuals filed for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits in May 2019,* an increase from the 7,374 filed a year ago. This month, UI claimants accounted for 41.1 percent of the total unemployed.

The number of employed Rhode Island residents was 532,100, down 400 from April. Over the year, the number of employed Rhode Island residents was down 1,000 from May 2018 (533,100).

The Rhode Island labor force totaled 552,200 in May 2019, down 700 from April 2019, and down 3,300 from May 2018 (555,500).  



Nonfarm payrolls in Rhode Island fell to 498,700 in May, a decrease of 600 jobs from the April revised payroll estimate of 499,300. May marks the first monthly job loss reported in Rhode Island since January. The number of jobs is up 2,100 from May 2018.

A loss of 800 jobs was reported in the Educational Services sector, stemming from large losses reported among higher education institutions. The number of jobs in Educational Services is down 300 from a year ago.

The Professional&Business Services sector lost 700 jobs in May, conceding most of the 1,100 jobs it added in April. Many jobs were lost within the Professional, Scientific&Technical Services subsector. Over the year, Professional&Business Services employment is down 2,000.

A loss of 300 Manufacturing jobs was reported in May, following the loss of 400 Manufacturing jobs in April. The durable goods component of manufacturing accounted for the job declines in both months. Manufacturing employment is down 1,400 from a year ago.

The Government, Information and Health Care&Social Assistance sectors all lost 100 jobs in May. Over the year, the number of jobs is up in Healthcare&Social Assistance (+1,900) and Information (+200), while being down in the Government (-100) sector.

Offsetting some of the May declines was a gain of 400 jobs reported in the Arts, Entertainment&Recreation sector. The opening of golf courses and beach clubs provided a boost to this seasonal industry sector. Since May 2018, the number of jobs in Arts, Entertainment&Recreation is down 300.

The Financial Activities, Transportation&Utilities, Construction, Wholesale Trade, and Retail Trade sectors each reported a gain of 200 jobs over the month. Over the year employment was up in the Financial Activities (+1,000), Transportation&Utilities (+1,000), Construction (+700) and Wholesale Trade (+700) sectors, while the Retail Trade sector reported a decline of 200 jobs from a year ago.

Finally, employment in the Other Services sector rose by 100 in May, marking three consecutive months of job gains within the sector. Other Services jobs are up 1,000 from last May.

The number of jobs in May remained unchanged in the Accommodation&Food Services and Mining&Logging sectors.


In May 2019, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $19.53 per hour, up ten cents from April 2019, and up thirty cents from May 2018.

Manufacturing employees worked an average of 39.0 hours per week in May, up six-tenths of an hour over the month, but down one and eight-tenths hours 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’ May labor force data and job counts on June 21, 2019. The Department of Labor and Training is scheduled to release the June 2019 labor force figures and job counts at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 18, 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


Previous Index Next

Labor Market Info | temporary Disability/Caregiver | Unemployment | Workers' Comp | Workforce Development | Workforce Regulation Safety

RI.gov | R.I. Government Agencies | Privacy Policy |
Rhode Island State Seal An Official Rhode Island State website.

DLT is an equal opportunity employer/program - auxiliary aids and services available upon request. TTY via RI Relay: 711