Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training


Rhode Island's Jobless Rate below U.S. Average for First Time since 2005
800 new jobs created in February (pdf)

March 23, 2007

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training reported today that Rhode Island's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell by three-tenths of a percentage point to 4.4 percent in February. The number of unemployed dropped by 1,400 during the month to 25,800.

Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training Director Adelita S. Orefice commented, "For the first time since May 2005, Rhode Island's unemployment rate is lower than the national average."

At 4.4 percent, the state's jobless rate for February dipped below the national average of 4.5 percent. The 4.4 percent rate is also the lowest unemployment rate in Rhode Island since March 2001.

In related news, the number of employed Rhode Island residents climbed to a new record high level of 553,800 in February. This tops the previous high of 553,300, set in January 2007.

Orefice added, "The state has more good news to celebrate, with a net gain of 800 jobs in Rhode Island last month." Rhode Island employment increased from 495,000 Ocean State-based jobs in January to 495,800 in February. An employment gain of 800 workers was observed in Educational Services, with additional smaller gains in the Retail Trade (+300); Financial Activities (+200); Wholesale Trade (+200); Information (+100); Professional & Business Services (+100); and Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (+100) sectors.

These gains were partially offset by job losses reported in Manufacturing (-400); Construction (-300); Transportation & Utilities (-100); Natural Resources & Mining (-100); and Government (-100).

Health Care & Social Assistance, Accommodation & Food Services, and Other Services employment remained unchanged over the month.

Employment gains in Educational Services reflected the return of student workers and other staff at the state's private colleges and universities following the winter recess. The increase in Retail Trade was influenced in part by the opening of a major retail trade store in the Providence area.

Continued cold weather in February contributed to the decrease in Construction jobs (-300). Government employment dropped by 100 jobs over the month, reflecting a loss in the state government segment.

Over the year, jobs were up 5,100 from the 490,700 jobs reported in February 2006. Annual employment growth occurred in the Professional & Business Services (+2,200); Financial Activities (+2,000); Health Care & Social Assistance (+1,600); Construction (+800); Educational Services (+700); Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (+700); Retail Trade (+500); Information (+200); Transportation & Utilities (+100); and Other Services (+100) sectors. These gains offset losses in Manufacturing (-2,400); Government (-900); Accommodation & Food Services (-300); and Wholesale Trade (-200).

Hours and Earnings

In February 2007, the $13.50 average hourly wage earned by the Manufacturing sector's production workers represented a monthly gain of four cents per hour and an over-the-year gain of sixteen cents per hour. Manufacturing employees worked an average of 39.3 hours per week in February, unchanged over the month and up 0.4 of an hour since February 2006.

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

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