RI Department of Labor and Training
Media Advisory

Rhode Island-Based Jobs up 2,200 from November;
December Unemployment Rate Rises to 3.9 Percent (pdf)

January 17, 2019

Cranston, RI - The RI Department of Labor and Training announced today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December 2018 was 3.9 percent, up one-tenth of a percentage point from the November rate. Over the year, the unemployment rate is down six-tenths of a percentage point from the December 2017 rate of 4.5 percent.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in December 2018, up two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month but down two-tenths of a percentage point over the year.

The number of unemployed RI residents — those residents classified as available for and actively seeking employment —was 21,700, up 400 from November. Over the year, the number of unemployed decreased by 3,400.

A total of 9,526 individuals collected Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits in December 2018 *, a decrease from the 10,463 filed a year ago. This month, UI claimants accounted for 44.5 percent of the total unemployed.

The number of employed RI residents was 539,400, down 200 from November. Over the year, the number of employed RI residents was up 8,300 from December 2017 (531,100).

The RI labor force totaled 561,000 in December 2018, up 100 from November 2018 and up 4,700 from December 2017 (556,300). 

  Dec. 18 Nov. 18 Dec. 17
RI Unemployment Rate 3.9% 3.8% 4.5%
U.S. Unemployment Rate  3.9% 3.7% 4.1%
RI Job Count
(in thousands)
505.0 502.8 497.9


  • The RI unemployment rate was 3.9 percent, up one-tenth of a percentage point from last month and down six-tenths of a percentage point from a year ago.
  • The number of RI-based jobs is up 2,200 from November, and up 7,100 from a year ago.

  • The number of unemployed RI residents was up 400 over the month.

JOBS BASED IN RHODE ISLAND: In December, the number of Rhode Island-based jobs totaled 505,000, an increase of 2,200 jobs from the revised November job count of 502,800. Rhode Island has averaged a gain of 800 jobs over the past three months and has 7,100 more nonfarm jobs than a year ago.

After reporting a loss of 600 jobs apiece in November, both the Construction sector and Other Services sector rebounded by adding 800 jobs and 600 jobs, respectively, in December. Each sector reported large over-the-year gains, with Other Services reporting a gain of 1,400 jobs from December 2017 and the Construction sector reporting a gain of 900 jobs.

In addition, the Professional & Business Services sector reported a gain of 600 jobs in December. Through the robust December gain, the Professional & Business Services sector is up 1,400 jobs from a year ago.

The Educational Services sector ended the year by adding 200 jobs in December and is up 900 jobs from December 2017.

The Accommodation & Food Services, Government, Health Care & Social Assistance and Retail Trade sectors each added 100 jobs in December. Among these four sectors, jobs in Retail Trade (+1,600), Accommodation & Food Services (+1,100) and Health Care & Social Assistance (+700) are up over the year, while Government employment is down 100.

Wholesale Trade reported the largest job decline in December, shedding 200 jobs from November. This was the first job decline in Wholesale Trade since September. Employment within the sector is up 200 from a year ago.

The Information and Manufacturing sectors each lost 100 jobs in December. The number of jobs in Information is up 100 over the year, while jobs in Manufacturing are down 600 over the year.

Employment in Arts, Entertainment & Recreation, Financial Activities, Mining & Logging and Transportation & Utilities sectors remained unchanged in December. Employment in both Financial Activities and Mining & Logging remained unchanged from December 2017, while Transportation & Utilities and Arts, Entertainment & Recreation employment is down 300 and 200, respectively, from a year ago.

MANUFACTURING: In December 2018, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $18.76 per hour, up nine cents from November 2018, but down twenty-nine cents from December 2017.

Manufacturing employees worked an average of 40.6 hours per week in December, up three-tenths over the month, but down one hour and two-tenths 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 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 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’ December labor force data and job counts on January 18, 2019. DLT is scheduled to release the January 2019 labor force figures and job counts on Thursday, March 7, 2019, at 10:00 a.m.


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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