Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training


RI Jobs Continue to Trend Down;
Unemployment Rate Rises to 7.7 Percent

August 15, 2008

The RI Department of Labor and Training announced today that the state’s July 2008 monthly job count totaled 480,600, a decline of 1,700 from June’s revised employment level of 482,300. July marks the seventh straight month of job losses for both Rhode Island and the United States .

The RI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continued to trend upward in July, climbing to 7.7 percent, its highest level since September 1993 (7.7%). The national jobless rate rose 0.2 of a percentage over the month to a four-year high of 5.7 percent in July.  

In July, the number of unemployed Rhode Island residents—those residents who classify themselves as available for and actively seeking employment—grew to 44,300, representing a monthly increase of 1,600 and the highest jobless level since February 1993 (44,400). On a year-over-year comparison, the number of unemployed residents increased 15,300 from July 2007 to July 2008.  

On a related note, the number of employed RI residents totaled 528,900 in July 2008, reflecting a drop of 600 from the previous month. On a year-over-year basis, the number of employed RI residents fell 18,200 between July 2007 and July 2008.

Over the month, the Government sector reported the largest employment drop (-700), due to declines in the state and local government segments. Losses in state government were primarily attributable to the retirement of a substantial number of state employees at the end of the fiscal year.  Job cutbacks of 200 each were reported in the Construction, Financial Activities, Professional & Business Services, and Accommodation & Food Services sectors. The Wholesale Trade, Information and Health Care & Social Assistance sectors each lost 100 jobs.  

The Educational Services sector reported the only monthly job gain (+100), while employment remained stable in Manufacturing; Retail Trade; Transportation & Utilities; Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Natural Resources & Mining; and Other Services.  

From July 2007 to July 2008, RI jobs declined 13,000, a 2.6 percent decrease. This is the steepest annual employment decline since January 1992 (-15,300).  

The largest annual employment losses occurred in the Manufacturing (-3,100), Retail Trade (-2,100), Professional & Business Services (-2,000), Government (-1,600), Financial Activities (-1,300), Construction (-1,100) and Other Services (-1,000) sectors. Smaller losses were noted in Transportation & Utilities (-500); Accommodation & Food Services (-400); Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-300); Wholesale Trade (-300); and Natural Resources & Mining (-100).  

Only two industry sectors experienced over-the-year job gains. The Information and Educational Services sectors each reported an over-the-year increase of 400 jobs. Employment in Health Care & Social Assistance was unchanged from July 2007 to July 2008.  

In July 2008, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $13.91 per hour. The average hourly production wage was up four cents from June but remained even compared to a year ago July. Manufacturing employees worked an average of 38.2 hours per week in July, down seven-tenths of an hour over the month and four-tenths of an hour since July 2007.  

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 August labor force figures are scheduled to be released on Friday, September 19, 2008.

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.