Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training


Rhode Island’s Jobless Rate Lowest in Six Years (pdf)

April 20, 2007

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training reported today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent in March, down from 4.4 percent in February. This puts the RI unemployment rate below the U.S. unemployment rate by two-tenths of a percentage point, and represents the second month in a row that Rhode Island has performed better than the national average. The RI unemployment rate has continued to drop for three consecutive months, down from 5.1% in December 2006.

“Rhode Island’s unemployment rate is the lowest since October 2000,” said RI Department of Labor and Training Director Adelita S. Orefice. This latest change can be attributed to the net drop in unemployed Rhode Islanders and the decrease in employed RI residents, which when combined served to reduce the state’s labor force by 1,800 last month. The number of unemployed Rhode Islanders decreased from 25,800 in February to 24,000 in March, while the number of employed residents remained relatively stable at 553,700 in March, down from 553,800 in February.

Rhode Island also saw a net gain of 200 jobs in March, increasing to 496,300 from February’s revised job count of 496,100. Employment gains of 200 each were noted in Construction, Accommodation & Food Services, and Other Services, while the Professional & Business Services and Natural Resources & Mining sectors each added 100 jobs. These gains were partially offset by job losses reported in Government (-300), Manufacturing (-100), Transportation & Utilities (-100) and Financial Activities (-100).
Wholesale Trade; Retail Trade; Information; Educational Services; Health Care & Social Assistance; and Arts, Entertainment & Recreation employment remained unchanged over the month. The increase in Accommodation & Food Services was influenced by growth in fast food restaurant employment.

Over the year, jobs were up 4,500 from the 491,800 jobs reported in March 2006. Annual employment growth occurred in the Professional & Business Services (+2,100); Financial Activities (+1,600); Health Care & Social Assistance (+1,500); Construction (+1,000); Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (+600); Educational Services (+500); Retail Trade (+300); Other Services (+300); Information (+100); and Natural Resources & Mining (+100) sectors. These gains offset losses in Manufacturing (-2,200); Government (-700); Accommodation & Food Services (-600); and Wholesale Trade (-100). Transportation & Utilities remained unchanged over the year.

Hours and Earnings

In March 2007, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $13.46 per hour. The average hourly production wage was down four cents per hour from February but unchanged from a year ago. Manufacturing employees worked an average of 39.0 hours per week in March, down 0.3 of an hour over the month and up 0.4 of an hour since March 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 www.dlt.ri.gov

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