R.I. unemployment rate edges upward in August

THE RHODE ISLAND unemployment rate was 5.8% in August, an increase of 0.1 percentage points from July, but a decline from 12.6% in August 2020. / AP FILE PHOTO/PAUL SAKUMA
THE RHODE ISLAND unemployment rate was 5.8% in August, an increase of 0.1 percentage points from July, but a decline from 12.6% in August 2020. / AP FILE PHOTO/PAUL SAKUMA

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island’s economic recovery appears to have stagnated in August.

The state unemployment rate was 5.8% in August, an increase from 5.7% in July and a decline from 12.6% one year prior.

Month to month, the state saw an increase in the number of unemployed residents in August, a decline in employed residents and a shrinking labor force. Despite this, nonfarm payrolls in the state increased modestly from July. All four job metrics improved year over year.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 5.2% in August, a decline from 5.4% in July and 8.4% in August 2020.

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Rhode Island’s jobs report:

The number of unemployed Rhode Islanders increased by 100 month to month to 30,900, a decline from 66,700 in August 2020. There were 27,300 fewer individuals unemployed in the state in February 2020, prior to pandemic-related shutdowns, the department said.

Employed Rhode Islanders totaled 503,800 in August, a decline of 1,500 month to month, an increase of 40,500 year over year and a decline of 36,000 from prior to the pandemic-related shutdowns.

The state labor force shrunk by 1,400 individuals from July, to 534,700, but had risen by 4,700 from August 2020. The department said there are 27,300 fewer residents participating in the state labor force than prior to the pandemic-related shutdowns.

Nonfarm payrolls in Rhode Island totaled 477,900, an increase of 800 month to month and 20,600 year over year.

The state’s manufacturing sector recorded the largest month-to-month decline of nonfarm payroll employment among all industries in the state, falling by 600 jobs, while food and accommodations had the largest increase, up by 900 jobs. Year over year, food and accommodation, a particularly hard-hit industry in the pandemic, also added 5,600 jobs, more than any other sector in the state. Government jobs declined by 400 year over year, the only sector to lose jobs from one year prior in August.

Seasonally adjusted nonfarm payrolls in Rhode Island by sector in August:

  • Health care and social assistance: 78,100, an increase of 100 from July and 2,400 year over year
  • Professional and business services: 65,100,an increase of 400 from July and 300 year over year
  • Government: 63,000, level with July and a decline of 400 year over year
  • Retail trade: 45,900, an increase of 200 month to month and 1,800 year over year
  • Accommodation and food services: 44,400, an increase of 900 month to month and 5,600 year over year
  • Manufacturing: 39,900, a decline of 600 month to month but an increase of 2,700 year over year. Production workers in the sector earned $22.68 per hour in August, an increase of 25 cents from July and $2.10 from one year prior. Workers in the industry worked an average of 39.3 hours per week for the month, an increase of 0.4 hours month to month and two hours from one year prior. 
  • Financial activities: 34,600, an increase of 100 month to month and 600 year over year
  • Educational services: 23,900, a decline of 100 from July and a rise of 200 year over year
  • Construction: 21,300, an increase of 200 month to month and 2,600 year over year
  • Other services: 20,300, a decline of 100 from July and a rise of 1,200 year over year
  • Wholesale trade: 15,800, a decline of 200 month to month and a rise of 500 year over year
  • Transportation and utilities: 13,000, a decline of 200 month to month and a rise of 500 year over year
  • Arts, entertainment and recreation: 7,100, an increase of 100 from July and 1,900 year over year
  • Information: 5,300, level with July and an increase of 200 year over year
  • Mining and logging: 200, unchanged from July and August 2020

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