RI Department of Labor and Training
Consumer Advisory

December Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.0 Percent;
Rhode Island-Based Jobs Down 1,000 from November

January 19, 2017

The RI Department of Labor and Training announced today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December 2016 was 5.0 percent, down three-tenths of a percentage point from the November rate. Over the year, the unemployment rate is down four-tenths of a percentage point from the December 2015 rate of 5.4 percent.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in December 2016, up one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month and down three-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 27,800, down 1,500 from the November figure of 29,300. Over the year, the number of unemployed dropped by 2,200.

A total of 10,898 individuals collected Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits in December 2016,* up from 9,921 a year ago. This month, UI claimants accounted for 44.0 percent of the total unemployed.

The number of employed RI residents was 525,500, down 800 from the November figure of 526,300. Over the year, the number of employed RI residents was up 3,300 from December 2015.

The RI labor force totaled 553,300 in December 2016, down 2,300 from November 2016 but up 1,100 from December 2015.

  Dec. 16 Nov. 16 Dec. 15
RI Unemployment Rate 5.0% 5.3% 5.4%
U.S. Unemployment Rate  4.7% 4.6% 5.0%
RI Job Count
(in thousands)
492.1 493.1 488.5


  • The RI unemployment rate was 5.0 percent, down three-tenths of a percentage point from last month and down four-tenths of a percentage point from a year ago.

  • The number of RI-based jobs is down 1,000 from November but up 3,600 from a year ago.

  • The number of employed RI residents decreased by 800 over the month.

  • There were 10,898 individuals collecting Unemployment Insurance benefits in December.*

JOBS BASED IN RHODE ISLAND: Estimated nonfarm payroll in Rhode Island totaled 492,100 in December, reflecting a loss of 1,000 jobs from the revised November estimate of 493,100. December’s loss ends two consecutive months of robust job gains reported in October (+1,600) and November (+800). Overall, the local economy generated 3,600 jobs since December 2015.

The Health Care & Social Assistance sector reported a loss of 500 jobs in December with the decreases occurring in the ambulatory healthcare services and hospitals subsectors. Over the year, employment in Health Care & Social Assistance is down 700.

Four employment sectors each reported a loss 400 jobs from November. Those sectors include: Educational Services, Financial Activities, Manufacturing and Wholesale Trade. Among those sectors, Financial Activities (-1,200), Manufacturing (-900) and Wholesale Trade (-400) all reported over-the-year job declines. Employment in Educational Services is up 600 from December 2015.

A loss of 100 jobs was reported in each of the Accommodation & Food Services, Information and Other Services sectors, while employment remained unchanged in the Mining & Logging, Retail Trade and Transportation & Utilities sectors. The Accommodation & Food Services (+2,700) and Retail Trade (+1,300) sectors were among two of three employment sectors to report a gain of at least one-thousand jobs over the year.

Offsetting some of the December job declines were job gains reported in the Construction (+600) and Professional & Business Services (+500) sectors. Despite adding a total of 1,000 jobs in the fourth-quarter of 2016, Construction employment was down 200 from December 2015. Professional & Business Services, the third employment sector to add at least one-thousand jobs over the year, was up 2,200 jobs from December 2015.

Smaller jobs gains were also reported in the Government (+200) and Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (+100) sectors.

MANUFACTURING: In December 2016, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $18.55 per hour, down five cents from November 2016, and up one-dollar and eight cents from December 2015.

Manufacturing employees worked an average of 42.1 hours per week in December, up two hours and three-tenths over the month and up two hours and six-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 measure 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 web site at www.bls.gov/sae/cesprocs.htm. BLS will be releasing all states’ December labor force data and job counts on January 24, 2017. DLT is scheduled to release the January 2017 labor force figures and job counts on Thursday, March 9, 2017, at 2:00 p.m.

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 web site at www.dlt.ri.gov

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