Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training


Rhode Island's Unemployment Rate Shows Little Change in May (pdf)

Joyce D'Orsi (401) 462-8762
Donna Murray (401) 462-8751
Labor Market Information
June 16, 2006

Adelita S. Orefice, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, announced today that Rhode Island's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for May was 5.5 percent, reflecting a gain of 0.1 of a percentage point from April. The number of unemployed Rhode Island residents increased by 700 over the month to 31,800 in May, while the number of employed residents grew by 600. A year ago, the jobless level was 28,500 and the State's unemployment rate stood at 5.0 percent. Nationally, the unemployment rate for May dipped 0.1 of a percentage point to 4.6 percent, its lowest level since July 2001. Compared to last year, the national jobless rate is down 0.5 of a percentage point. Rhode Island's unemployment rate for May exceeded the national average.

Employment at Rhode Island businesses decreased by 1,500 (-0.3%) in May, bringing the May job count to 493,700 (seasonally adjusted). Over-the-month employment losses were reflected in Trade, Transportation & Utilities (-500), Government (-500), Educational & Health Services (-200), Manufacturing (-100), Financial Activities (-100), and Other Services (-100). A monthly gain of 100 jobs was noted in Construction. Professional & Business Services and Leisure & Hospitality showed no change over the month.

"It is not unusual to see the job count fluctuate from month to month. Even though we saw a drop in the job count for May, the overall trend since the beginning of the year remains positive," said Director Orefice. "We have added 500 jobs since March and 2,900 since January."

The decrease of 500 jobs in the Trade, Transportation & Utilities sector is mainly due to a decline in the Transportation & Warehousing segment. Government experienced a monthly decrease of 500 workers, reflecting reduced employment in Local Education, along with the lack of growth in Federal and State government. Educational & Health Services declined by 200 jobs due to the departure of student workers from colleges and universities at the end of the semester.

Over the year, total employment was up 4,000 (+0.8%) from the 489,700 jobs reported in May 2005. Annual employment growth occurred in the Professional & Business Services (+1,800), Financial Activities (+1,400), Educational & Health Services (+1,400), Construction (+1,300), Trade, Transportation & Utilities (+300), and Leisure & Hospitality (+300) sectors, offsetting over-the-year losses in Manufacturing (-2,100), Other Services (-700), and Government (-300).

Hours and Earnings

In May 2006, the $13.42 average hourly wage earned by the Manufacturing sector's production workers represented a monthly loss of nine cents per hour and an over-the-year gain of forty-two cents per hour. Manufacturing employees worked an average of 39.0 hours per week in May, up 1.5 hours over the month and 0.3 of an hour since May 2005.

Note: Current month figures are preliminary; prior month and year are revised. Data may not be additive and 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.

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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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