Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training


Unemployment Rate Rises to 8.8 Percent (pdf)


October 17, 2008

The RI Department of Labor and Training announced today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continued to trend upward in September, climbing to 8.8 percent, its highest level since September 1992 (8.8%). The national jobless rate remained unchanged at 6.1 percent.

In Rhode Island, the September 2008 monthly job count totaled 478,200, a decline of 1,300 from the August revised employment level of 479,500. September marks the ninth straight month of job losses for both Rhode Island and the United States.

In September, the number of unemployed Rhode Island residents—those residents who classify themselves as available for and actively seeking employment—increased by 1,400 to reach 50,200, the state’s highest jobless level on record. On a year-over-year comparison, the number of unemployed residents increased 20,800 from September 2007 to September 2008.

On a related note, the number of employed RI residents totaled 522,500 in September 2008, reflecting an increase of 300 from the previous month. On a year-over-year basis, the number of employed RI residents fell 25,300 between September 2007 and September 2008.

The Other Services sector, which includes automotive repair & maintenance, personal care services and social organizations, reported a loss of 400 jobs over the month. Also in September, Manufacturing, Health Care & Social Assistance, Construction and Retail Trade each lost 200 workers.  Employment in Wholesale Trade, Information, Professional & Business Services, Educational Services and Government fell by 100.  

The Accommodation & Food Services sector and the Financial Activities sector each reported an increase of 200 workers in September. Accommodation & Food Services’ gains were noted in food service establishments, while insurance & other related insurance activities provided for the growth in Financial Activities.

Employment in the Natural Resources & Mining, Transportation & Utilities and Arts, Entertainment & Recreation sectors was unchanged.

From September 2007 to September 2008, RI jobs declined 12,600, a 2.6 percent decrease. The largest annual employment losses occurred in the Manufacturing (-3,300), Retail Trade (-1,900), Financial Activities (-1,400), Other Services (-1,400), Government (-1,300), and Professional & Business Services (-1,200) sectors. Smaller losses were noted in Construction (-700); Wholesale Trade (-600); Health Care & Social Assistance (-400); Transportation & Utilities (-400); Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-400); and Natural Resources & Mining (-100).

Information and Educational Services each reported an over-the-year increase of 400 jobs.

In September 2008, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $13.96 per hour. The average hourly production wage was up five cents from August and up six cents from a year ago September. Manufacturing employees worked an average of 38.8 hours per week in September, up six-tenths of an hour over the month but down five-tenths of an hour since September 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 September labor force figures are scheduled to be released on Friday, November 21, 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