Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training

Unemployment Rate Climbs to 10.3 percent
March 3, 2009

The RI Department of Labor and Training announced today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate climbed nine-tenths of a percent over December’s revised unemployment rate, reaching 10.3 percent in January, its highest level in over 30 years.

From December 2008 to January 2009, the U.S. unemployment rate rose four-tenths of a percent to reach 7.6 percent, its highest rate since September 1992.

In Rhode Island, the January 2009 job count totaled 469,600, a decline of 1,600 jobs from December’s revised employment level of 471,200. January marks the twelfth straight month of job losses for Rhode Island, and the thirteen consecutive months of job declines for the US.

In January, the number of unemployed RI residents—those residents who classify themselves as available for and actively seeking employment—increased by 4,600 over the month to reach 57,800. From January 2008 to January 2009, the number of unemployed RI residents increased 22,000.

On a related note, the number of employed RI residents totaled 504,900 in January 2009, reflecting a decrease of 7,200 from the previous month. Over the year, the number of employed RI residents fell 28,100 between January 2008 and January 2009.   

SECTOR EMPLOYMENT: In January, Construction, Professional & Business Services, Educational Services and Wholesale Trade each experienced a loss of 300 jobs. 

Also in January, job losses were reported in Manufacturing and Health Care & Social Assistance, with each sector shedding 200 jobs. Elsewhere, over-the-month employment declines were noted in Financial Activities (-100), Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-100), and Transportation & Utilities (-100).

Retail Trade, the only sector to add jobs in January, reported a gain of 300 employees. This increase may be attributed to the fact that holiday hiring fell well below traditional hiring, resulting in less retail layoffs. Overall, January employment in Retail Trade (47,100) was down 1,600 from pre-holiday hiring in October 2008 (48,700).

Employment in Information, Accommodation & Food Services, Other Services, Government and Natural Resources & Mining remained unchanged between December 2008 and January 2009.

From January 2008 to January 2009, RI jobs declined 19,000 (-3.9 %) due to job losses in nearly all economic sectors. The largest annual employment declines were reported in Manufacturing (-4,100), followed by Retail Trade (-3,600), Professional & Business Services (-3,400), Construction (-2,700), Government (-1,500) and Financial Activities (-1,200). Smaller losses were noted in Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-700), Wholesale Trade (-600), Accommodation & Food Services (-600), Other Services (-500), Transportation & Utilities (-400) and Information (-300)

Health Care & Social Assistance and Educational Services reported employment increases over the year, with gains of 500 and 100 jobs, respectively.

MANUFACTURING: In January 2009, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $13.99 per hour. The average hourly production wage was down seven cents from December and up one cent from a year ago January. Manufacturing employees worked an average of 37.5 hours per week in January, down three-tenths of an hour over the month and down an hour and one-tenth since January 2008.


Note: Current month figures are preliminary; prior month and year are revised. 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. Rhode Island labor market information is available at www.dlt.ri.gov/lmi. The December labor force figures are scheduled to be released on Friday, January 23, 2009.

About the RI Department of Labor and Training
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