The state made an early payment to the U.S. Treasury on a loan used to cover unemployment benefits. It was the state’s final payment and the feds got it six months early.

Since March of 2009, Rhode Island borrowed nearly a billion dollars to cover unemployment benefits. The state made its final payment on that lump sum six months early, saving businesses more than $50 million next year. It will save local businesses said department of Labor and Training director Charles Fogarty.

Starting Monday the Department of Labor and Training is expanding the hours of its call center handling unemployment insurance.

The DLT call center used to take calls for two full days and three half days, but now it will take calls every weekday except Wednesday, said Assistant Director, Bob Langlais.

“We thought it was better for customer service we be open four full days, we won’t be any half days,” said Langlais, “and then they’ll have a full day for our staff to do their back office.”

file / RIPR

Rhode Island’s jobless rate ticked up in December to land at 9.1 percent, that’s up from 9 percent in November.

During the late summer and fall, Rhode Island’s persistently high unemployment rate had been gradually ticking down. But the seasonally adjusted rate for December reverses that course, inching up one-tenth of a percentage point to 9.1 percent. 

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for a weekly business segment we're calling "The Bottom Line." Each Friday they look at business news and themes that affect local business and the public.


The latest employment numbers for Rhode Island are a mixed bag.

The state’s unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a point in September then held in October at 9-point-2 percent. But Rhode Island has added 35-hundred jobs since July.

Sectors seeing the largest growth were Professional and Business Services and Accommodation and Food Services. Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training Director Charles Fogarty said construction has also seen a nice bump over the past few months.


Starting next month, extended unemployment benefits will drop from 73 weeks to 63 weeks. The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training said the cut comes thanks to lower unemployment numbers.

States with an average unemployment rate of 9 percent or higher can offer what’s called Tier 4 of federal unemployment benefits that lasts for ten weeks. But because Rhode Island’s June unemployment rate of 8.9 percent brought the state’s average down below the threshold, it can no longer offer those ten weeks of extra benefits.

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.

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training says it is bringing back eleven previously laid off employees to help with the unemployment insurance call center. 

Jobless Rhode Islanders have had to wait for hours, and in some cases days, to get a call through.  The problem started in July when the Department was forced to lay off a third of its staffers due to reduced federal funding.