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January Unemployment Falls to 3.4 Percent;
Rhode Island-Based Jobs Decreased 200 from December (pdf)

March 12, 2020



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

Jan 2020


Dec 2019


Jan 2019



CRANSTON, R.I. - The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January was 3.4 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from December 2019, the Department of Labor and Training announced Thursday. Over the year, the unemployment rate is down three-tenths of a percentage point from the January 2019 rate of 3.7 percent.         

The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in January 2020, up one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month but down four-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 18,900, down 400 from December. Over the year, the number of unemployed residents decreased by 1,600.  

A total of 11,607 individuals filed for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits in January 2020[1]*, a decrease of 1,066 from the 12,673 filed a year ago. This month, UI claimants accounted for 51.8 percent of the total unemployed. 

The number of employed Rhode Island residents was 538,600, up 1,000 from December. Over the year, the number of employed Rhode Island residents was up 4,200 from January 2019 (534,400). 

The Rhode Island labor force totaled 557,500 in January 2020, up 600 from December 2019 and up 2,700 from January 2019 (554,800). 


*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.


Rhode Island-Based Jobs  

The Rhode Island January nonfarm job count of 505,500 decreased by 200 from the revised December job count of 505,700. Over the year, Rhode Island-based jobs are up 1,700. 

Seven sectors reported small over-the-month losses in January. The Other Services sector reported a loss of 300 jobs, marking five consecutive months without a reported job gain. The number of jobs in the Other Services sector is down 1,100 from January 2019.  

The number of jobs in the Manufacturing sector fell by 200 in January. This was the first monthly decline in Manufacturing since October 2019. Over the year, Manufacturing employment is down 700.  

Jobs fell by 200 in the Educational Services and Wholesale Trade sectors. The number of jobs in the Wholesale Trade sector is up 500 from a year ago, while the job count in Educational Services remained unchanged.  

The Arts, Entertainment & Recreation, Information and Retail Trade sectors each reported a loss of 100 jobs in January. Employment in Arts, Entertainment & Recreation is up 500 from January 2019, while being down in both the Retail Trade (-300) and Information (-100) sectors. 

Offsetting some of the January job losses was a gain of 600 jobs reported in the Accommodation & Food Services sector. This job gain marks four consecutive months of job gains within this sector, totaling 1,100 jobs. Over the year, jobs in Accommodation & Food Services are up 700.

A gain of 200 jobs was noted in the Professional & Business Services sector, stemming from gains reported in the Professional & Technical Services subsector. Over the year, Professional & Business Services employment is down 500.  

The number of jobs in each the Health Care & Social Assistance and Government sectors rose by 100 in January, and are up 1,200 and 1,000, respectively, from a year ago. 

The January job count remained unchanged in the Transportation & Utilities, Financial Activities and Construction sectors. Over the year, jobs are up in Transportation & Utilities (+800) and Financial Activities (+300), while being down in the Construction (-600) sector.  

Manufacturing Hours and Earnings  

In January 2020, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $19.12 per hour, down twenty-four cents from December 2019, and down forty-five cents from January 2019.  

Manufacturing employees worked an average of 37.2 hours per week in January, down one hour and six-tenths over the month, and down nine-tenths 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’ January labor force data and job counts on March 16, 2020. The Department of Labor and Training is scheduled to release the February 2020 labor force figures and job counts at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 26, 2020. 

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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