Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training


Unemployment Rate Rises to 12.7 Percent (pdf)

August 21, 2009

The RI Department of Labor and Training announced today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July reached 12.7 percent, an increase of three-tenths of a percentage point over the June rate of 12.4 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate declined one-tenth of a percent over the month to 9.4 percent in July.

The number of employed RI residents increased 1,700 over the month, totaling totaled 500,800 in July. Over the year, the number of employed RI residents fell 22,100.

In July, the number of unemployed RI residents—those residents classified as available for and actively seeking employment—increased by 2,300 over the month to reach 72,900. From July 2008 to July 2009, the number of unemployed RI residents increased by 27,800.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate compares the number of unemployed RI residents to the total labor force—both employed and unemployed residents. While this month the number of employed RI residents increased, the number of unemployed residents increased more, thereby increasing the size of the total labor force and elevating the state’s unemployment rate.

Due to numerous eligibility requirements, the number of unemployed RI residents differs from the number of RI Unemployment Insurance recipients. The average weekly claim load for RI Unemployment Insurance benefits in July was 39,383.


The Rhode Island count of total nonfarm employment in July totaled 463,900, an increase of 900 jobs from June’s revised employment figure of 463,000. This marks the first over-the-month job gain in the state since January 2008.

The largest employment increases were noted in the Construction and Manufacturing sectors, with each reporting a gain of 500 jobs. Increased employment among specialty trade contractors was largely responsible for the employment boost in the Construction sector, with both the residential and nonresidential adding jobs over the month. The increase in Manufacturing sector employment was due in large part to a decline in the number of seasonal layoffs that normally occur at Rhode Island manufacturing plants during July.

Employment gains between June and July were also reported in Professional & Business Services (+300), Financial Activities (+200), Transportation & Utilities (+200), Accommodation & Food Services (+200) and Retail Trade (+100). Employment remained unchanged in Arts, Entertainment & Recreation and Natural Resources & Mining.

The Health Care & Social Assistance and Government sectors each lost 300 jobs over the month. Losses in Health Care & Social Assistance employment can be attributed in part to reduced customer demand for routine or elective services; the majority of Government losses occurred on the municipal level.  Other sectors experiencing job loss include Information (-200), Educational Services (-100), Wholesale Trade (-100) and Other Services (-100).

Between July 2008 and July 2009, job declines were reported in nearly all economic sectors, resulting in an overall loss of 17,500 (-3.6%) jobs during this period. Manufacturing (-4,500), Professional & Business Services (-2,500), Retail Trade (-2,500), Construction (-2,300) and Government (-2,300) reported the most significant annual employment declines. Smaller over-the-year losses were noted in Wholesale Trade (-900), Other Services (-700), Financial Activities (-700), Information (-600), Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-500), Transportation & Utilities (-400), Health Care & Social Assistance (-100) and Natural Resources & Mining (-100).

Accommodation & Food Services (+500) and Educational Services (+100) were the only two sectors to add jobs over the year.

MANUFACTURING: In July 2009, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $14.48 per hour. The average hourly production wage was up forty-two cents from June 2009 and up fifty-nine cents from July 2008. Manufacturing employees worked an average of 36.3 hours per week in July, down an hour and six-tenths over the month, and down an hour and a half over the year.

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. Unemployment rates prior to 1976 are not recognized by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as official since the methodology used at that time is not comparable to today’s methods. 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 18, 2009.

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 Islandís 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.