Unemployment rate falls to 4.4 percent, first decline in 2 months

PROVIDENCE – Breaking a two-month streak at 4.5 percent, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 4.4 in May, according to a report from the R.I. Department of Labor and Training Thursday.

The Ocean State’s unemployment rate in May 2017 was also 4.4 percent.

The nation’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate also fell 0.1 percentage point in May to 3.8 percent – a 0.5 percentage point decline from May 2017.

Roughly 25,000 (24,800) Rhode Islanders were unemployed in May which is a decline of 400 individuals from April but a gain of 600 over the year.

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Thirty-four and four-tenths percent of the state’s total unemployed, or 7,374 individuals, collected unemployment insurance benefits in May – which represents a dip from 8,216 in May 2017.

Nonfarm payroll reached 500,300 in May, an increase of 1,200 jobs from the revised April figure.

Below is a sector-by-sector breakdown of job trends among Rhode Island’s top industries in March and how they compare to February 2018 and March 2017. Of the 15 sectors tracked, seven saw job gains both month-to-month and year-over-year.

  • SEVEN OF THE 15 tracked industries saw job gains both in month-to-month and year-over-year comparisons. / COURTESY R.I. DLT
    SEVEN OF THE 15 tracked industries saw job gains both in month-to-month and year-over-year comparisons. / COURTESY R.I. DLT

    Retail trade: 800 jobs were added in May – the sector has seen four consecutive months of gains totaling 1,600 jobs – and 900 jobs were added over the year

  • Construction: Two months of job losses were ended when 600 jobs were added in May; 900 jobs have been added in the year-over-year comparison
  • Accommodation and food services: May saw 300 jobs added and 600 have been gained in the year-over-year comparison
  • Health care and social assistant: 200 jobs were added in May while the sector has gained nearly 2,000 (1,900) jobs since May 2017
  • Arts, entertainment and recreation: 200 jobs were added in May and 200 jobs have been gained in the year-over-year comparison
  • Transportation and utilities: May saw 100 jobs added while 300 have been added in the year-over-year comparison
  • Government: 100 jobs were added in May and 100 have been added since May 2017
  • Educational services: 600 jobs were dropped in May and the sector has shed 1,400 since May 2017
  • Financial activities: 200 jobs were lost in May yet the sector has added 500 since May 2017
  • Manufacturing: 100 jobs were lost in May while 1,000 jobs were added in the year-over-year comparison
  • Other services: May saw 100 jobs lost while 800 have been gained in the year-over-year comparison
  • Wholesale trade: 100 jobs were lost in May and the sector has dropped 400 since May 2017
  • Professional and business services: employment was unchanged in May but has gained 2,400 jobs since May 2017
  • Information: employment was unchanged in May and the sector lost 300 jobs since May 2017
  • Mining and logging employment remained unchanged over the month and unchanged over the year.

Manufacturing sector production employees earned $19.31 per hour in May – a gain of 28 cents since April and 40 cents over the year. In May, those individuals worked an average 40.8 hours per week – a loss of 48 minutes since April yet a gain of one hour 42 minutes over the year.

Emily Gowdey-Backus is a staff writer for PBN. You can follow her on Twitter @FlashGowdey or contact her via email, gowdey-backus@pbn.com.