Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training


Rhode Island's Unemployment Rate Lowest since November 2001 (pdf)

The RI Dept. of Labor and Training reported today that Rhode Island's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January fell to 4.7 percent, the lowest since November 2001.

The January rate is down 0.4 of a percentage point from December's revised estimate of 5.1 percent. Rhode Island's January jobless rate was only 0.1 of a percentage point above the national average of 4.6 percent.

RI Dept. of Labor and Training Director Adelita S. Orefice explained, "The latest unemployment figures are very promising for the Rhode Island economy. In fact, this is the first time in over a year that RI has been so close-within one-tenth of a percentage point-to the national unemployment rate." During 2006, Rhode Island's unemployment rate averaged .55 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate.

In related news, the number of unemployed dropped by 2,200 over the month to 27,200, while the number of employed Rhode Island residents reached a record high level of 553,300 in January.

However, employment at Rhode Island businesses decreased by 1,200 jobs this month, from 495,900 Rhode Island-based jobs in December 2006 to 494,700 in January 2007. Small employment gains were seen in the Construction (+300); Retail Trade (+300); Information (+200); and Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (+200) sectors.

These gains were offset by job losses reported in Accommodation & Food Services (-800); Educational Services (-300); Health Care & Social Assistance (-300); Government (-300); Wholesale Trade (-200); Financial Activities (-200); and Manufacturing (-100).

Employment losses in Accommodation & Food Services reflected a reduction of workers in restaurants and drinking places. The temporary closing of the State's private colleges and universities due to semester break was largely responsible for the decrease in Educational Services employment.

Government employment dropped by 300 jobs over the month, reflecting losses in both state and local government segments.

Milder than normal weather at the beginning of the year contributed to the increase in Construction jobs (+300).

Over the year, jobs were up 4,700 from the 490,000 jobs reported in January 2006. Annual employment growth occurred in the Professional & Business Services (+2,100); Financial Activities (+1,600); Health Care & Social Assistance (+1,500); Construction (+1,300); Educational Services (+700); Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (+700); Retail Trade (+200), Natural Resources & Mining (+100); Transportation & Utilities (+100); and Other Services (+100) sectors; offsetting losses in Manufacturing (-2,000); Accommodation & Food Services
(-700); Government (-600); and Wholesale Trade (-400).

Hours and Earnings

In January 2007, the $13.46 average hourly wage earned by the Manufacturing sector's production workers represented a monthly gain of seven cents per hour and an over-the-year gain of fifteen cents per hour. Manufacturing employees worked an average of 39.2 hours per week in January, down 0.7 of an hour over the month and up 0.8 of an hour since January 2006.

Note: Current month figures are preliminary; prior month and year are revised. Data are subject to revision.

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.

The establishment employment figures are derived from a survey of businesses in Rhode Island and measure the number of jobs in the state.

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training offers a wide array of employment and training services to both the general public and to individuals with unusual barriers to employment. DLT is ready to assist any job seeker, whether the goal is a first job, a better job, or a career change. Rhode Island's workforce is protected through the enforcement of labor laws, prevailing wage rates, and workplace health and safety standards. Temporary income support is available to unemployed, sick, or injured workers and a comprehensive rehabilitation program is available to those injured on the job.

DLT is dedicated to the growth and competitiveness of Rhode Island industry, administering a variety of training grants, tax credits, and apprenticeship programs to help employers. Economic indicators and labor market information are available for long-range planning. The Agency engages in active outreach, helping large and small employers retain their best workers or retrain their existing work force. At no cost to the employer, DLT will also screen job applicants, post job vacancies, and help businesses institute cost-sharing programs that can avert layoffs.

For more information on the innovative programs and services available to all Rhode Islanders at the Department of Labor and Training, please call (401) 462-8000 or visit the web site at

Equal Opportunity Employer/Program
Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.
TDD (401) 462-8006