In a sign that Rhode Island finally, albeit slowly, is emerging from the recession, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped slightly in January to 9.8 percent, from 9.9 percent in December.
The good news is that January represented the third consecutive month of job growth in the state. Hiring was led by the retail and restaurant industries. The jobless rate has dropped considerably since the high of 11.9 percent in January, 2010.
Yet, Rhode Island still has one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates and the deep job losses in such fields as construction, manufacturing and government have yet to rebound. In December of 2006, Rhode Island had 23,200 construction related jobs; that figure in January, 2013 is just 15,000. Manufacturing employment was 51,800 in December, 2006 and just 40,800 in January, 2013. Government employment has also dropped considerably, from 64,900 in December 2006 to 59,700 in January, 2013.
Employment in Rhode Island increased in January by 4,300, according to the monthly report from the Department of Labor and Training. The hotel and restaurant industries added 1,600 jobs and retail businesses hired 1,100 new workers.
Charles J. Fogarty, DLT director, says he is heartened by the upswing in hospitality industry positions because it can be a harbinger of a better economy. ``We are at our highest hospitality employment in 10 years and that represents disposable income. That means things may be picking up.’’
And, Fogarty said, Rhode Island in the last year is ahead of the national average in cutting its unemployment rate. The state rate is down a full one percent whild the national jobless rate is down four-tenths of a percent.
But Fogarty acknowledges that despite the recent gains, too many Rhode Islanders who are looking for jobs and not able to find them. ``We still have a long way to go.’’