WORKFORCE

County employment rises, wages drop in 2Q

BLOOMBERG FILE PHOTO/TIM BOYLE
Employment edged up in Providence County as during the second quarter as average weekly wages dropped by 1 percent year-over-year.
Posted 2/7/13

BOSTON - While employment edged up in Providence County by 0.6 percentage points during the second quarter of 2012, average weekly wages declined by 1 percent as compared to second quarter 2011.

A report released Thursday by the New England Information Office of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in June 2012, the county’s employment stood at 271,623 and accounted for 59 percent of employment within Rhode Island.

Statewide, over-the-year employment was up 0.9 percent during the same period, while nationally, employment increased by 1.8 percent.

Providence County, which is considered the state’s only large county (large counties are defined as those with employment of 75,000 or more as measured by 2011 annual average employment), was one of 287 of 328 large counties that experienced job gains from June 2011 to June 2012.

The largest over-the-year gain recorded was 8.2 in Yakima, Wash., with Madison, Ill., St. Clair, Ill. and Clay, Mo. experiencing the largest over-the-year decrease with a loss of 2 percent each.

Although employment was up slightly during the second quarter of 2012, the average weekly wage in Providence County, $888, reflects a decrease of 1 percent compared to the second quarter of 2011.

Statewide, the average weekly wage was $859 and the national average weekly wage was $903.

Providence was one of 86 large counties that experienced a wage drop during this period, with Williamson, Texas experiencing the largest average weekly wage decrease with a loss of 17 percent.

Of the counties that experienced over-the-year wage growth, Washington, Ore., ranked first in average weekly wage growth, with an increase of 8.5 percent from the second quarter of 2011.

Of Rhode Island’s other four counties, none reported an average weekly wage above the national average in the second quarter of 2012.

Newport had the highest weekly wages at $839, while Bristol had the lowest at $716. Bristol County’s wage was more than 20 percent below the U.S. average.

Data used in the bureau’s report was derived from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which obtains data from unemployment insurance summaries.

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