RI Department of Labor and Training
Press Release

May Unemployment Rate Drops to 4.1 Percent;
Rhode Island-Based Jobs up 600 from April (pdf)

June 15, 2017

The RI Department of Labor and Training announced today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for May 2017 was 4.1 percent, down two-tenths of a percentage point from the April rate. Over the year, the unemployment rate is down one and three-tenths percentage points from the May 2016 rate of 5.4 percent.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in May 2017, down one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month and down four-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 22,900, down 1,000 from the April figure of 23,900. Over the year, the number of unemployed dropped by 7,200.

A total of 8,216 individuals collected Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits in May 2017,* down from 8,586 a year ago. This month, UI claimants accounted for 41.0 percent of the total unemployed.

The number of employed RI residents was 532,700, up 1,100 from the April figure of 531,600. Over the year, the number of employed RI residents was up 10,200 from May 2016.

The RI labor force totaled 555,500 in May 2017, unchanged from April 2017 and up 2,900 from May 2016. 


  May 17 April 17 May 16
RI Unemployment Rate 4.1% 4.3% 5.4%
U.S. Unemployment Rate  4.3% 4.4% 4.7%
RI Job Count
(in thousands)
495.4 494.8 488.3


  • The RI unemployment rate was 4.3 percent, unchanged from last month and down one and one-tenth percentage points from a year ago.
  • The number of RI-based jobs is down 200 from March and up 5,000 from a year ago.
  • The number of employed RI residents increased by 1,500 over the month.
  • There were 11,167 individuals collecting Unemployment Insurance benefits in April.*

JOBS BASED IN RHODE ISLAND: Estimated nonfarm payroll in Rhode Island totaled 495,400 in May, reflecting a gain of 600 jobs from the revised April estimate of 494,800. Overall, the number of jobs in Rhode Island is up 7,100 from May 2016.

The Accommodation & Food Services sector added 1,000 jobs in May, following a large gain of 600 jobs in April. Over the year, the number of jobs in the Accommodation & Food Services sector is up 1,700.

The Other Services sector reported the second highest job gain in May, reporting an increase of 500 jobs from April. Employment in the Other Services is up 200 from a year ago.

Following a loss of employment in April, the Health Care & Social Assistance sector rebounded with the addition of 400 jobs in May. Employment in the state’s largest employment sector is up 500 over the year.

The Construction sector continues to trend upward, adding 300 jobs in May. The Construction sector has added 1,600 jobs since the start of the year, an average gain of 300 jobs per month. Over the year, Construction employment is up 2,300.

The Educational Services and Information sectors round out the monthly job gains, adding 200 and 100 jobs, respectively. The increase of jobs in the Information sector is the first monthly increase of its kind since November 2016. Over the year, employment in Educational Services is up 400 while Information employment is up 300.

Offsetting May’s job gains were reported losses in six employment sectors led by the Professional & Business Services sector which lost 700 jobs. This industry sector has reported three consecutive months of job declines totaling 2,000 jobs, or an average loss of 700 jobs per month. Despite this recent fall, jobs in the Professional & Business Services sector is up 100 from a year ago.

Like the Professional & Business Services sector, the Arts, Entertainment & Recreation sector too has reported three consecutive months of job declines, shedding 600 jobs in May. Overall, the sector lost 1,600 jobs during this three month span and the number of jobs is down 400 over the year.

Smaller job losses in May were noted in the Financial Activities and Retail Trade sectors which lost 200 jobs each, and the Manufacturing and Transportation & Utilities sectors, which lost 100 jobs each.

The number of jobs in the Government, Mining & Logging and Wholesale Trade sectors remained unchanged from April.

MANUFACTURING: In May 2017, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $18.85 per hour, down ten cents from April 2017 but up eighty-eight cents from May 2016.

Manufacturing employees worked an average of 39.1 hours per week in May, down four-tenths of an hour over the month but up one full hour 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 website at www.bls.gov/sae/cesprocs.htm.  BLS will be releasing all states’ May labor force data and job counts on June 16, 2017. DLT is scheduled to release the June 2017 labor force figures and job counts on Thursday, July 20, 2017, 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


*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.


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