Despite National Trend Unemployment Persists in Rhode Island

Aug 16, 2013

Rhode Island’s jobless rate edged up slightly in July, from 8.8 percent to 8.9 percent.  It’s a source of frustration for state Labor Department officials who concede that at the current rate it will take several years for Rhode Island to get anywhere close to full employment.

Despite national trends showing unemployment trending downwards, Rhode Island's unemployment increased one-tenth of a percent in July.

Led by a sharp drop in the number of temporary jobs, Rhode Island’s jobless rate posted a one-tenth of one percent increase in July. Still, the 8.9 percent rate is 1.6 percent lower than a year ago.

The number of Rhode Island based jobs fell by 900 last month.  Even more concerning was the number of Rhode Islanders in the labor force. That figure fell by 24-hundred, possibly because of mass retirements.

Charles Fogarty, director of the state Department of Labor and Training concedes that Rhode Island employment could take years to return to pre-recession levels.

"Full employment, Flo, is usually identified by economists as somewhere around 5.2 percent. So we’re looking at several more years before we get to full employment," said Fogarty.

The biggest loser in the July jobs report was professional and business services, a sector which shed 13-hundred jobs.  Health care, construction, and transportation posted smaller job declines.  Employment gains were reported in eight other sectors, led by retail trade and arts and entertainment.

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