RI Department of Labor and Training

Unemployment Rate Declines to 11.5 Percent (pdf)

January 21, 2011

The RI Department of Labor and Training announced today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December 2010 was 11.5 percent, a decrease of one-tenth of a percentage point from the state’s November 2010 rate. Last December the state’s unemployment rate was 12.7 percent.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 9.4 percent in December, down four-tenths of a percentage point from November.

The number of unemployed RI residents—those residents classified as available for and actively seeking employment—decreased by 100 from November figures, dropping to 66,000. Over the year, the number of unemployed RI residents decreased by 6,800.

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 December was 37,141, up 3,687 (+11.0%) from the November average of 33,454, but down 4,289 (-10.4%) from the December 2009 average of 41,430.

The number of employed RI residents reached 507,100 in December, an increase of 1,000 over the previous month’s figures. Over the year, the number of employed RI residents increased by 5,800, the tenth consecutive over-the-year increase and the largest over-the-year increase since March 2007.

The total Rhode Island labor force stood at 573,200 in December, up 1,000 over November labor force figures but down 900 from December 2009 figures. The over-the-month increase is attributed to the increase in the number of employed residents outweighing the decrease in the number of unemployed residents.

Estimated nonfarm payroll in Rhode Island totaled 449,500 in December, reflecting a loss of 400 jobs from the November employment figure of 449,900. The private sector lost 300 jobs in December while the public sector reported a loss of 100 jobs.

The largest over-the-month decline was noted in the Accommodation & Food Services sector, which reported 900 fewer jobs in December, due mainly to job losses among the food services industry. Smaller job declines were reported in Construction (-300), Wholesale Trade (-200), Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-200), Financial Activities (-200), Other Services (-200), Natural Resources & Mining (-100) and Government (-100).

December employment gains were noted in six sectors with the largest occurring in the Health Care & Social Assistance sector, which added 500 jobs from November. The Ambulatory Health Care Services, Hospitals and Social Assistance industries all posted positive gains. Also, over-the-month gains were reported in Transportation & Utilities (+400), Retail Trade (+400), Educational Services (+300), Professional & Business Services (+100) and Manufacturing (+100). Employment in the Information sector remained unchanged.  

The number of Rhode Island-based jobs decreased by 2,400 (-0.5%) between December 2009 and December 2010. Over-the-year job losses were noted in seven economic sectors including Construction (-1,200), Educational Services (-1,000), Wholesale Trade (-600), Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-500), Financial Activities (-400), Manufacturing (-200) and Government (-200).

However, employment in four sectors—Other Services (+500), Transportation & Utilities (+500), Health Care & Social Assistance (+400) and Information (+300) was up over the year. Employment in the Accommodation & Food Services, Professional & Business Services, Retail Trade and Natural Resources & Mining sectors remained even over the year.

MANUFACTURING: In December 2010, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $14.85 per hour. The average hourly production wage was down two cents from November 2010 and up 44 cents from December 2009. Manufacturing employees worked an average of 39.2 hours per week in December, up three-tenths of an hour from November, and up eight-tenths of an hour over the year.

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. The January labor force figures are scheduled to be released on Friday, March 4, 2011.

The RI Department of Labor and Training offers employment services, educational services and economic opportunity to both individuals and employers. DLT protects Rhode Islandís 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.