Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training


Rhode Island's Unemployment Rate Holds Steady in February
The Number of Jobs Increases for Fifth Straight Month

Contact: Donna Murray (401) 462-8751
Robert Langlais (401) 462-8767

March 18, 2005

Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training Director Adelita S. Orefice announced today that Rhode Island's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February was 4.4 percent, unchanged from January. The number of employed Rhode Island residents climbed by 3,000 over the month, while the number of unemployed edged up slightly to 24,800 in February. A year ago, the unemployment rate was 5.4 percent, and the number of unemployed stood at 30,500. Nationally, the unemployment rate rose to 5.4 percent in February from 5.2 percent in January. Rhode Island's unemployment rate has remained below the national average since August 2001.

"Rhode Island's labor market continued to move in a positive direction as the labor force, fueled by an increase in the number of employed residents, grew for the first time since July," said Director Orefice. "We're also happy to report that momentum continued to build on the jobs front as businesses added jobs for the fifth straight month."

Rhode Island Job Highlights

Rhode Island businesses added 800 (+0.2%) jobs last month, bringing the February job count to 491,900 (seasonally adjusted). Over-the-month employment gains in Educational & Health Services (+500); Professional & Business Services (+400); Construction (+200); Financial Activities (+200) and Government (+100) offset job losses reported in Trade, Transportation & Utilities (-300) and Leisure & Hospitality (-100). Manufacturing employment remained unchanged over the month.

February's gain of 800 jobs marks the fifth consecutive month of employment increases. Private sector employment showed continued growth, as Professional & Business Services, Educational & Health Services and Financial Activities each reported successive monthly job gains of five months, four months and three months, respectively. Manufacturing employment remained stable in February following three months of job declines. Trade, Transportation & Utilities was the only sector to record a continued monthly decline, losing jobs in each of the last four months.

Over the year, employment was up 4,900 (+1.0%) from the 487,000 jobs reported in February 2004. The largest gains were noted in Professional & Business Services (+2,600); Educational & Health Services (+2,600); Leisure & Hospitality (+1,300) and Financial Activities (+1,200). The largest private sector employment losses occurred in Trade, Transportation & Utilities (-2,300) and Manufacturing (-800). Government employment increased by 100.

Establishment Employment

Hours and Earnings

In February 2005, the $13.01 average hourly wage earned by the Manufacturing sector's production workers represented a yearly gain of four cents, but a monthly loss of four cents per hour. Manufacturing employees worked an average of 37.9 hours per week in February, unchanged over the month, but down 1.4 hours from last year.

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.

With the release of the January data, unemployment rates and the related labor force, employment, and unemployment estimates are based on improved modeling procedures. Prior years (back to 1976) have also been revised using the new models.

The improved models:
· reduce the size of end-of-year revisions and result in better year-over-year comparisons;
· directly produce seasonally adjusted estimates, which is currently an external process;
· and control not seasonally adjusted state estimates to sum to the national labor force totals.

For more information on the redesigned models, visit www.dlt.ri.gov/lmi/laus/redesignqa.htm.

The employment figures in the "Rhode Island Job Highlights" section are derived from a survey of businesses in Rhode Island and measure the number of jobs in the state. With the release of the January data, the seasonally adjusted jobs figures for 2000-2004 reflect changes due to the annual benchmark revision process.

- 30 -

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 work force is protected through the enforcement of labor laws, prevailing wage rates, and work place 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 our web site at www.dlt.ri.gov

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