RI Department of Labor and Training

Unemployment Rate Rises to 11.1 Percent (pdf)

April 20, 2012

The RI Department of Labor and Training announced today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March 2012 rose slightly to 11.1 percent, up one-tenth of a percentage point from the February 2012 rate.

The March 2012 rate was down one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous March, representing the 17th consecutive month of year-over-year decreases in the state’s unemployment rate.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 8.2 percent in March, down one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month and down seven-tenths of a percentage point over the year.

The number of unemployed RI residents—those residents classified as available for and actively seeking employment—increased by 400 over the February figure, increasing to 62,100 in March. Over the year, the number of unemployed RI residents dropped by 1,100.

Due to numerous eligibility requirements, the number of unemployed RI residents differs from the number of RI Unemployment Insurance recipients. The average weekly claim load for RI Unemployment Insurance benefits in March was 34,413, down 1,222 (-3.4%) from the February average of 35,635 and down 4,928 (-12.5%) from the March 2011 average of 39,341.

The number of employed RI residents was down 1,300 over the revised February figures, dropping to 496,100 in March, the lowest employment level since December 1996. Over the year, the number of employed RI residents was down 5,200 from March 2011.

The RI labor force totaled 558,200 in March 2012, down 800 from February and down 6,300 from March 2011 estimates. This is the lowest labor force level since March 2005. The labor force decrease reflected losses in employed residents outweighing the gains in unemployed residents. This is the 23rd consecutive month that the RI labor force has decreased.

JOBS BASED IN RHODE ISLAND: Estimated nonfarm payroll in Rhode Island totaled 457,700 in March, down 600 jobs from the revised February employment estimate of 458,300. Private sector employment decreased by 200 in March while Government employment decreased by 400.

The Professional & Business Services sector lost 900 in March as job losses were reported within several industry groups of the sector including office administrative services, temporary help services and advertising and public relation services. Educational Services (-700) also reported a large over the month employment loss which was mainly due to cutbacks in hiring at local colleges and universities as well as sports and recreation instruction schools.

Also in March, Government employment was down 400, with all the losses reported within the local government branch. Many of the local government job losses stemmed from public elementary and secondary schools.

Smaller over-the-month job declines were reported in the Retail Trade (-100), Construction (-100), Information      (-100) and Wholesale Trade (-100) sectors. Employment within the Manufacturing sector remained unchanged.

Offsetting the March job declines were positive gains reported in the Health Care & Social Assistance (+500) and Other Services (+500) sectors. Ambulatory health care services propelled the growth within the health care industry while gains in Other Services were mainly due to growth in repair and maintenance services as well as civic and professional organizations.

Positive job gains from February were also reported in the Financial Activities (+300), Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (+200), Accommodation & Food Services (+100), Transportation & Utilities (+100) and Mining & Logging (+100) sectors.
Over the year, total nonfarm employment decreased by 2,200. Job losses were reported in eight economic sectors, including Government (-1,000), Retail Trade (-800), Other Services (-800), Health Care & Social Assistance (-700), Construction (-500), Accommodation & Food Services (-400), Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-300) and Financial Activities (-200).
Educational Services employment posted the largest over-the-year increase in March, with a gain of 1,100 jobs, followed by Information (+500), Wholesale Trade (+400), Manufacturing (+300), Transportation & Utilities (+100) and Mining & Logging (+100).
Employment in Professional & Business Services remained unchanged since March 2011.

MANUFACTURING: In March 2012, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $18.29 per hour. The average hourly production wage was up 20 cents from February 2012 and up $3.10 from March 2011. Manufacturing employees worked an average of 39.9 hours per week in March, down three-tenths of an hour over the month and no change in hours per week 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 employment figures are 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 CES estimates is available on the BLS web site at http://www.bls.gov/sae/cesprocs.htm.  The April labor force figures are scheduled to be released on Friday, May 18, 2012.


ABOUT DLT: The RI Department of Labor and Training offers employment services, educational services and economic opportunity 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 on the programs and services available to all Rhode Islanders, please call the RI Department of Labor and Training at (401) 462-8000 or visit the web site at www.dlt.ri.gov