Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training


Unemployment Rate Drops to 12.9 Percent (pdf)

November 20, 2009

The RI Department of Labor and Training announced today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for October 2009 fell to 12.9 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from the September rate of 13.0 percent. During the same time period, the U.S. unemployment rate increased four-tenths of a percentage point to reach 10.2 percent.

In October, the number of unemployed RI residents—those residents classified as available for and actively seeking employment—decreased by 400 over the month to total 73,700. Over the year, however, the number of unemployed RI residents increased by 23,700.

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 October was 33,996, down 1,723 (4.8%) from the September average of 35,718.

The number of employed RI residents decreased 200 over the month, totaling 496,100 in October. Over the year, the number of employed RI residents decreased by 20,400. Decreases in both the number of employed and unemployed residents brought the state’s labor force to 569,800.

JOBS BASED IN RHODE ISLAND: In Rhode Island, the October 2009 total non-farm job count totaled 456,600, the lowest employment level since April 1998 (455,000). The October job count declined by 1,100 from the September revised employment level of 457,700.

Five industry sectors added jobs in October. The Health Care & Social Assistance sector added 500 jobs, with all four sector components (ambulatory health care services, hospitals nursing & residential care facilities & social assistance) reporting gains. Construction employment increased by 400 over the month, due mainly to reported gains in building construction.

Wholesale Trade (+300), Professional & Business Services (+200) and Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (+100) sectors also showed job gains. Within Professional & Business Services, gains occurring among Professional & Technical Services overshadowed losses in Administrative & Waste Services.

In October, seven industry sectors reported job declines, with the largest losses noted in Retail Trade (-600), Educational Services (-500) and Government (-500). Within the Retail Trade sector, job losses were attributed to weak seasonal hiring, while declines in Educational Services were attributed to drops in the numbers of student workers hired at some of the state’s private colleges and universities. Losses in Government employment were attributed to declines at the local level in the non-educational segment. Job losses were also reported in the Other Services (-400), Accommodation & Food Services (-300), Financial Activities (-200) and Manufacturing (-100) sectors. Employment in Information, Transportation & Utilities and Natural Resources & Mining remained unchanged in October.

Between October 2008 and October 2009, job declines were reported in nearly all economic sectors, resulting in an overall loss of 20,800 (-4.4%) jobs during this period. Manufacturing (-4,800), Retail Trade (-2,800), Construction (-2,500), Professional & Business Services (-2,400), Other Services (-1,500), Financial Activities (-1,200), Accommodation & Food Services (-1,100) and Government (-1,000) reported the most significant annual employment declines. Smaller over-the-year losses were noted in Information (-800), Health Care & Social Assistance (-800), Wholesale Trade (-700), Transportation & Utilities (-500), Educational Services (-400) and Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-300).

MANUFACTURING: In October 2009, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $14.31 per hour. The average hourly production wage was up eight cents from September 2009 and up forty cents from October 2008. Manufacturing employees worked an average of 37.6 hours per week in October, unchanged 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 November labor force figures are scheduled to be released on Friday, December 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.