Rhode Island Unemployment Drops Again

Below is the monthly labor statistics summary released by the RI Department of Labor and Training.

Unemployment Rate Drops to 12.5 Percent

The RI Department of Labor and Training announced today that the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April 2010 dropped to 12.5 percent, a decrease of 0.1 of a percentage point from the state's March 2010 rate. This represents the second straight over-the-month decrease in the state's unemployment rate.

The U.S. unemployment rate reached 9.9 percent in April, up two-tenths of percentage point from March. The number of unemployed RI residents-those residents classified as available for and actively seeking employment-decreased by 400 from March figures, dropping to 72,300. This decline marks the third straight over-the-month decrease in the number of unemployed. Over the year, the number of unemployed RI residents increased by 13,600.

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 April was 40,697, down 4,763 (-10.5%) from the March average of 45,460.

The number of employed RI residents increased 1,200 over the March figures, totaling 507,000 in April. This is the fourth consecutive month in which the number of employed RI residents increased. Over the year, the number of employed RI residents increased by 2,900, the second straight over-the-year increase.

The monthly increase in the number of employed residents outweighed the decrease in the number of unemployed residents, resulting in a total Rhode Island labor force of 579,300, an increase of 900 over March and an increase of 16,500 over April 2009 figures.

The numbers of employed and unemployed Rhode Islanders, along with the resulting unemployment rate, are calculated through a household survey known as the Current Population Survey (CPS). By CPS definition, workers whose unemployment is due to weather-related issues are considered to be “with a job but not at work.” Because workers temporarily laid off or relocated due to the March flooding were still considered employed Rhode Islanders at the time of the survey, the impact of flooding on the state's April unemployment rate (12.5%) was minimal.

Over the month, nonfarm payroll employment declined by 4,400, totaling 448,000 in April. Most of these losses are believed to be temporary and are due to flood-related layoffs and relocations. The number of Rhode Island-based jobs is determined by the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program, a monthly employer survey based on payroll records from the week which includes the 12th day of each month.

The monthly decline in Rhode Island-based jobs reflects all employees who did not receive pay, including severance and vacation, during the week of April 12. According to Unemployment Insurance program data, employment at an estimated 150 Rhode Island companies continued to be impacted from flooding during survey week.

The Accommodation & Food Services sector lost 1,800 jobs in April, due in part to the flood-related closing of several local restaurants and fast-food places. Seasonal hiring in this sector also fell well below traditional April increases, an indicator that the March flooding may have disrupted traditional seasonal hiring patterns. The Retail Trade sector was directly impacted by the March flooding and lost 1,100 jobs in April due in large part to the temporary closure of the Warwick Mall. The Arts, Entertainment & Recreation sector also lost 1,100 jobs, due in part to delays in seasonal hiring.

The Manufacturing and Construction sectors each lost 700 jobs over the month, with nearly half the losses in the Manufacturing considered flood-related. The flood-related closure of ambulatory health care facilities contributed to the loss of 400 jobs in Health Care & Social Assistance. Other Services sector employment declined by 600 in April, while the Educational Services (-300) and Transportation & Utilities (-100) also reported monthly job losses.

Three sectors-Professional & Business Services (1,800), Financial Activities (300) and Wholesale Trade (300)- reported employment gains in April. The Professional Services, Landscaping Services, Temporary Help Services and Waste Management Services sub-sectors all reported job gains, which fueled the growth in Professional & Business Services. Employment in the Information, Government and Natural Resources & Mining sectors remained even.

April 2010 employment was down 12,400 (-2.7%) from April 2009, with significant job declines reported in several sectors, including Retail Trade (-2,400), Manufacturing (-2,200), Construction (-1,800), Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-1,500), Accommodation & Food Services (-1,400), and Government (-1,100).
Health Care & Social Assistance, however, added 1,200 jobs over the year.

MANUFACTURING: In April 2010, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $14.67 per hour. The average hourly production wage was up nine cents from March 2010 and up eighty-nine cents from April 2009. Manufacturing employees worked an average of 37.9 hours per week in April, down nine-tenths of an hour over the month, but up three-tenths of an hour over the year.