MARK MAGGI, an economist for the New England Information Office, said that at 7.1 percent, the annual average unemployment rate for 2013 in New England, was “not measurably different” from the national rate of 7.4 percent
While New England’s unemployment rate as a whole remained relatively stable in 2013, Rhode Island’s rate was the highest in the region and among the highest nationally, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released on Friday.
Mark Maggi, an economist for the New England Information Office, said that at 7.1 percent, the annual average unemployment rate for 2013 in New England, was “not measurably different” from the national rate of 7.4 percent.
“The unemployment rate in New England has flattened a bit in the past two years,” said Maggi. “We didn’t get as bad as it did nationally and our recovery has been a little more ‘plateaued,’ so as the national recovery speeds up the rates begin to converge.”
However, Rhode Island’s rate of 9.5 percent was “amongst the worst” in the country, along with Nevada, at 9.8 percent and Illinois at 9.2 percent, he said. Rhode Island also was one of only 11 states and the District of Columbia to have a jobless rate above the national average, he said.
Rhode Island’s jobless rate did decline .8 percent during the 2013 – a change Maggi called statistically significant. Maine and Vermont jobless rates also both fell 0.5 point.
The other New England states’ jobless rates included 4.4 percent in Vermont, 5.3 percent in New Hampshire, 6.7 percent in Maine, 7.1 percent in Massachusetts and 7.8 percent in Connecticut.
“Connecticut and Massachusetts have weathered the storm a bit better than Rhode Island,” Maggi said “Massachusetts in particular has a lot of health care and social assistance jobs, and those jobs tend to be recession-proof. [Massachusetts] also has a high concentration of jobs in the high tech fields and education, whereas a state like Rhode Island that’s more dependent on manufacturing, construction, and tourism – those industries … have been slow to come back,” he said.
Rhode Island’s unemployment rate has declined thus far this year, however, coming in at 9 percent for February, the latest figure available.