Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training


Unemployment Rate Rises to 12.8 Percent (pdf)

September 18, 2009


The RI Department of Labor and Training announced today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August reached 12.8 percent, an increase of one-tenth of a percentage point over the July rate of 12.7 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate increased three-tenths of a percentage point over the month to 9.7 percent in August.

The number of employed RI residents decreased 400 over the month, totaling 500,400 in August. Over the year, the number of employed RI residents fell 19,400.

In August, the number of unemployed RI residents—those residents classified as available for and actively seeking employment—increased by 500 over the month to reach 73,300. From August 2008 to August 2009, the number of unemployed RI residents increased by 26,500.

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 August was 38,928.

August total nonfarm payroll employment (461,900) declined by 2,400 (-0.5%) from July’s revised employment level of 464,300, the largest monthly job loss since February 2009. Since the start of the national recession in December 2007, employment in the state has fallen by 26,500.

The largest employment decreases were noted in the Manufacturing (-1,000) and Construction (-900) sectors, the two sectors which contributed heavily in July’s over-the-month job gain.

The July gains reported in the Construction sector were eliminated this month as large losses were reported in the Specialty Trade Contractors field. In Manufacturing, the fewer than average number of seasonal shutdowns reported in July, resulted in less manufacturing workers being added back to the August payroll.

Other employment losses between July and August were reported in Professional & Business Services (-300), Retail Trade (-300), Financial Activities (-100), Wholesale Trade (-100) and Government (-100). 

The Other Services (+300) and Accommodation & Food Services (+100) sectors added jobs over the month while several sectors, which include Transportation & Utilities, Information,  Arts, Entertainment & Recreation, Health Care & Social Assistance, Education Services and Natural Resources & Mining, remained unchanged.

Between August 2008 and August 2009, job declines were reported in nearly all economic sectors, resulting in an overall loss of 19,200 (-4.0%) jobs during this period. Manufacturing (-5,100), Construction (-3,100), Retail Trade (-2,700), Professional & Business Services (-2,500) and Government (-2,200) reported the most significant annual employment declines. Smaller over-the-year losses were noted in Information (-900), Financial Activities               (-800), Wholesale Trade (-800), Transportation & Utilities (-600), Health Care & Social Assistance (-500), Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-400) and Other Services (-300).

Accommodation & Food Services (+700) was the lone sector to add jobs over the year, while employment in Educational Services and Natural Resources & Mining remained unchanged.

MANUFACTURING: In August 2009, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $13.95 per hour. The average hourly production wage was down fifty-three cents from July 2009 and up four cents from August 2008. Manufacturing employees worked an average of 37.5 hours per week in August, up an hour and three-tenths over the month, but down seven-tenths of an hour 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 September labor force figures are scheduled to be released on Friday, October 16, 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.