WASHINGTON – Rhode Island and California posted preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rates of 9.8 percent in January, the highest in the nation and significantly higher than the U.S. figure of 7.9 percent, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Monday. The Ocean State and California were among nine states that had jobless rates measurably higher than the national number.
Rhode Island also was one of 11 states that showed statistically significant increases in employment from December to January, as the state added 2,800 jobs, off a base of 465,600, a month-over-month gain of 0.6 percent. The Ocean State did not see a significant change from January 2012 to January 2013, however.
New England posted a January 2013 seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 7.1 percent, the same as in December and 0.1 percent less than the January 2012 rate. It was also the third-lowest rate among the nation’s 9 census divisions, with the West North Central having the lowest jobless rate, at 5.5 percent, and the Pacific division recording the highest rate, 9.2 percent.
Rhode Island’s January rate of 9.8 percent represented a 0.1 percentage point decline from December and a full percentage point drop from the January 2012 figure. At the same time, Connecticut registered an 8.1 percent jobless rate in January, a 0.1 percentage point drop from both January and December 2012. Massachusetts posted a 6.7 percent jobless rate in January, identical to its December rate but a 0.1 percentage point decline from a year earlier.
Vermont had the lowest unemployment rate in New England in January, at 4.7 percent, while New Hampshire had a 5.8 percent rate and Maine a 7.3 percent rate.
Changes in industry sector employment revealed that Rhode Island is in the midst of an uneven recovery. For instance, financial activities employment grew 5.8 percent from January 2012 to January 2013 to 32,900, according to preliminary BLS statistics. Leisure and hospitality jobs increased 4.1 percent to 53,200 in the same time period, while manufacturing saw a 2 percent increase to 40,200. Education and health services, professional and business services, and trade, transportation and utilities saw increases ranging from 0.1 percent to 1.4 percent.
On the other hand, construction employment fell 8 percent year over year to 15,000, and the number of government jobs fell 0.8 percent to 59,700.
The release of national and regional figures reflects changes to the employment models that BLS recently put into place, in addition to its standard yearly revisions, with potential revisions to the seasonally adjusted data going back to January 1990.