PROVIDENCE — Despite posting an unemployment rate in January that fell below the national jobless figure for the first time since May 2005, Rhode Island still has a way to go to reach the middle of the pack among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
According to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, the Ocean State’s 4.7 jobless rate in January tied it with Oklahoma for No. 29 in the nation, one-tenth of a percentage point less than the national rate of 4.8 percent, but 2 full percentage points higher than the national leader, New Hampshire, which had an unemployment rate of 2.7 percent in January.
In fact, Rhode Island’s rate was the highest in New England, as top-ranked New Hampshire was followed in order by:
No. 6, Vermont, at 3.1 percent
No. 8, Massachusetts, 3.2 percent
No. 11, Maine, 3.5 percent
No. 25, Connecticut, 4.5 percent.
The BLS highlighted Connecticut’s full percentage point decline from January 2016’s 5.5 percent jobless rate to January 2017’s 4.5 percent.
Maine’s decline was noted as one of the five largest statistically significant month-to-month changes by the BLS, as it fell three-tenths of a percentage point from December 2016 to January’s 3.5 percent.
In total, 20 states had unemployment rates significantly lower than the U.S. figure of 4.8 percent, 8 states and the District of Columbia had higher rates, and 22 states – including Rhode Island – had rates that were not appreciably different from the nation as a whole.
The national unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in January, little changed from both December 2016 and January 2016.