RI Department of Labor and Training


August Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.6 Percent;
Rhode Island-Based Jobs Down 800 from July (pdf)


September 17, 2015

The RI Department of Labor and Training announced today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August 2015 dropped to 5.6 percent, down two-tenths of a percentage point from the July 2015 rate of 5.8 percent. Over the year, the unemployment rate is down one and eight-tenths percentage points from the August 2014 rate. This is the lowest unemployment rate since September 2007.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in August 2015, down two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and down one percentage point over the year.
The number of unemployed RI residents—those residents classified as available for and actively seeking employment—was 31,600, down 700 from the July figure of 32,300. This represents the lowest unemployment level since September 2007. Over the year, the number of unemployed dropped by 9,300.

A total of 11,009 individuals collected Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits in August 2015,* down from 12,086 a year ago. This month, UI claimants accounted for 34.1 percent of the total unemployed.

The number of employed RI residents was 528,600, up 1,100 from the July figure of 527,500. Over the year, the number of employed RI residents was up 16,100 from August 2014.
  Aug. 15 July 15 Aug. 14
RI Unemployment Rate      5.6% 5.8% 7.4%
U.S. Unemployment Rate    5.1% 5.3% 6.1%
RI Job Count (in thousands) 485.0 485.8 479.4


  • The RI unemployment rate declined to 5.6%, its lowest level since September 2007.
  • The number of RI-based jobs is down 800 from July but up 5,600 from a year ago.
  • The number of employed RI residents increased by 1,100 over the month.
  • There were 11,009 individuals collecting Unemployment Insurance benefits in August.*

The RI labor force totaled 560,200 in August 2015, up 400 from July 2015 and up 6,900 from August 2014.

JOBS BASED IN RHODE ISLAND: Estimated nonfarm payroll in Rhode Island totaled 485,000 in August, reflecting a loss of 800 jobs from the revised July estimate of 485,800. The Government sector was responsible for 600 of the lost jobs, while private sector employment fell by 200. During the past three months, Rhode Island has averaged a gain of 400 jobs and has added 5,600 jobs over the year. Since the start of the year, jobs are up 5,700.

The number of jobs in the Government sector fell by 600 in August, of which a majority of the losses came from the local government branch. The August decline helps offset an unusual gain of 1,000 jobs reported by the Government sector in July, attributed to the end of a late school year which inflated the number of jobs in local government. Since August of last year, Government employment is up 200.

Employment in both the Professional & Business Services sector and the Health Care & Social Assistance sector declined by 500 over the month. The decline is a minor setback in Professional & Business Services, a sector which is up 3,200 jobs from a year ago and has added 3,900 jobs since the start of the year. The Health Care & Social Assistance sector continues to struggle as employment is down 700 over the year and jobs are down 300 since the start of the year.

Smaller job losses in August were reported in Educational Services (-200), Other Services (-200) and Transportation & Warehousing (-100), while employment remained unchanged in the Arts, Entertainment & Recreation, Information and Mining & Logging sectors.

The addition of 400 jobs in the Retail Trade sector propelled its employment level to 47,700, the highest level since January 2009. Jobs in Retail Trade are up 500 over the year and the sector has averaged a gain of 300 jobs over the past three months. The Accommodation & Food Services sector also added 400 jobs in August, ending two consecutive months of job declines and increasing its year-over-year job total to 1,100.  

The Wholesale Trade sector added 200 jobs in August, marking four consecutive months of job gains. Jobs in the Construction sector rose for the first time since May and only the third time in 2015 as 100 jobs were added to the sector. Employment within Construction is down 1,300 from August 2014, the largest year-over-year employment decline amongst all employment sectors.

A gain of 100 jobs in the Manufacturing sector raises its August employment level to 42,100, the highest level since April 2009. Manufacturing employment is up 1,100 from a year ago and up 700 since the start of the year. With the addition of 100 jobs in August, the Financial Activities employment level rose to 33,200, its highest level since July 2008. Jobs in Financial Activities are up 600 from this period a year ago and this sector has averaged a monthly gain of 200 jobs over the past three months.

MANUFACTURING: In August 2015, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $17.36 per hour, down 36 cents from July 2015 and down 77 cents from August 2014. Manufacturing production employees worked an average of 38.5 hours per week in August, down seven-tenths of an hour from July and also down seven-tenths over the year.

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’ August labor force data and job counts on September 18, 2015. DLT is scheduled to release the September 2015 labor force figures and job counts on Thursday, October 15, 2015, at 2:00 p.m.

*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.

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 web site at www.dlt.ri.gov