R.I., Mass. only states in N.E. to post jobless rate declines in May
RHODE ISLAND'S unemployment rate of 8.2 percent in May was the only rate nationwide higher than 8 percent, but its 1.3-percentage-point slide year over year was among the most significant declines in the country.
PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island’s May unemployment rate of 8.2 percent was the highest in the country for a seventh consecutive month, but Rhode Island was also one of 32 states with year-over-year unemployment rate declines designated statistically significant, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.
Between May 2013 and May 2014, the Ocean State’s jobless rate fell 1.3 percentage points from 9.5 percent to 8.2 percent. Month over month, the unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point.
In Massachusetts, the unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent in May, seasonally adjusted. A month earlier, in April, the Massachusetts unemployment rate was 6 percent and in May 2013 the rate was 7 percent.
Among the six New England states, Vermont had the region’s lowest unemployment rate, at 3.3 percent, followed by New Hampshire with 4.4 percent and Maine with 5.7 percent. Connecticut ranked fifth, below Massachusetts, with 6.9 percent.
Only Rhode Island and Massachusetts reported a month-over-month decline in their unemployment rates for May, while rates in the other four New England states were unchanged.
Rhode Island was the only state in the U.S. to post an unemployment rate in May higher than 8 percent. Nevada reported the second-highest rate, at 7.9 percent, joining Rhode Island as one of eight states and the District of Columbia with an unemployment rate measurably higher than the national rate of 6.3 percent.
The lowest state unemployment rate, 2.6 percent, was recorded in North Dakota.
Most notably, last month represented the first time since April 2013 that the state’s civilian labor force improved on both a month-over-month and year-over-year basis. The labor force totaled 557,800 in May, an increase of 2,000 compared with April and an increase of 100 compared with May 2013.
Twenty U.S. states registered lower unemployment rates in May compared with a year earlier, while 16 states reported increases and 14 states and the District of Columbia saw no change.
In a ranking of the nine census divisions in the nation, New England claimed the fourth-lowest unemployment rate at 5.7 percent. West North Central, with 4.6 percent, was the region with the lowest jobless rate, while the highest unemployment rate by division was 6.8 percent, recorded in the Pacific and East South Central regions.