RI Department of Labor and Training

Unemployment Rate Drops to 10.5 Percent (pdf)

October 21, 2011

The RI Department of Labor and Training announced today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for September 2011 was 10.5 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month and down one full percentage point from September 2010.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 9.1 percent in September, unchanged from the previous month and down five-tenths of a percentage point from September 2010.

The number of unemployed RI residents—those residents classified as available for and actively seeking employment—decreased by 800 over the August figures, falling to 58,800 in September, the 18th consecutive over-the-month decline. Over the year, the number of unemployed RI residents dropped by 7,600.

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 September was 29,540, down 2,647 (-8.2%) from the August average of 32,187 and down 4,362 (-12.9%) from the September 2010 average of 33,902.

The number of employed RI residents decreased 200 over the August figures, totaling 501,500 in September. Over the year, the number of employed RI residents was down 8,800 from September 2010.

The RI labor force totaled 560,400 in September 2011, down 1,000 from August and down 16,300 from September 2010 estimates. The over-the-month decrease in the number of unemployed residents, combined with the decrease in the number of employed residents, caused the September labor force to drop to its lowest level since May 2005.

JOBS BASED IN RHODE ISLAND:  Estimated nonfarm payroll in Rhode Island totaled 459,800 in September, reflecting a loss of 1,700 jobs from the August employment estimate of 461,500 (revised upward by 600), which follows a loss of 5,700 jobs in July. Despite two consecutive months of employment losses, RI-based jobs still increased by 3,000 from January to September of this year.

Three sectors—Educational Services, Other Services and Government—all experienced sizeable employment declines over the month. The Educational Services sector lost 1,200 jobs due, in part, to employment drops at private colleges and schools.

The Other Services sector reported a decline of 800 jobs, with greater than normal losses from civic and social organization summer programs and with sizable losses in the area of auto repair and maintenance. Government employment was down 800 over the month as all three branches, federal, state and local government, reported declines.

Smaller employment losses in September were reported in the Retail Trade (-500), Health Care & Social Assistance        (-400) and Professional & Business Services (-200) sectors. Retail Trade losses are due, in part, to drops in auto-related industries and clothing & accessory stores, while Health Care & Social Assistance losses are due in part to drops in the hospital and social assistance subsectors.

Notable over-the-month gains occurred in the Accommodation & Food Services sector, which gained 1,000 jobs due to a change in seasonal hiring patterns, and the Information sector, which registered an uptick of 800 jobs, due to the end of a telecommunications strike. The Construction and Manufacturing sectors each added 200 workers in September, while employment within the Arts, Entertainment & Recreation, Financial Activities, Transportation & Warehousing, Wholesale Trade and Natural Resources & Mining sectors remained even.

Over the year, employment remained unchanged from September 2010, as job gains reported in seven economic sectors were offset by losses reported elsewhere. Over-the-year job gains were reported in Retail Trade (+1,600), Accommodation & Food Services (+1,000), Wholesale Trade (+600), Manufacturing (+600), Professional & Business Services (+400), Other Services (+100) and Health Care & Social Assistance (+100).

Government employment was down 1,700 from September 2010 to September 2011. Also reporting over-the year job losses were Educational Services
(-1,000), Financial Activities (-800), Construction (-500), Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-200) and Transportation & Utilities (-200). Information and Natural Resources & Mining employment remained even over the year.

MANUFACTURING: In September 2011, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $17.25 per hour. The average hourly production wage was up 32 cents from August 2011 and up $2.42 from September 2010. Manufacturing employees worked an average of 38.8 hours per week in September, up two-tenths of an hour over the month, but down three-tenths of an hour over the year.

METHODOLOGY: 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 October labor force figures are scheduled to be released on Friday, November 18, 2011.



ABOUT DLT: 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