PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Governor Gina M. Raimondo issued the following statement today upon release of the May 2017 jobs report:
"Two and a half years ago, we started the difficult work to get Rhode Island's economy moving again. For most of the year before I took office, our unemployment rate was the highest in America. It's now 4.1 percent - 0.2 percentage points below the national average.
"The investments we've made in job training, education, infrastructure and economic development are working. Thanks in part to the Rebuild RI initiative and RhodeWorks, we've added 2,300 construction jobs in the last year - more than any other sector. In fact, one out of three new jobs created in Rhode Island in the last 12 months has been in construction.
"We must protect the progress and investments we've made in recent years, otherwise we risk falling back on the hard times we knew too well in the early 2010s."
Rhode Island's unemployment rate has declined by nearly 40 percent (6.6 percent in December 2014 to 4.1 percent in May 2017) since Governor Raimondo took office. From October 2013 until June 2014, Rhode Island had the nation's highest unemployment rate and the month before Governor Raimondo took office, the state had the dubious honor of having the nation's sixth highest unemployment rate.
After implementing reforms to make Rhode Island a better, more predictable state to do business and making record investments in K-12 and higher education, Rhode Island's unemployment rate is below the national average and the lowest it has been since January 2001.
The labor force held steady in May and has grown by roughly 5,500 since the start of 2017. In a sign that Rhode Islanders are seeing better wages, the accommodation and food service sector added 1,000 jobs last month. The construction industry added another 300 jobs in May. Over the last 12 months, Rhode Island has added 2,300 construction jobs.
In her first year in office, Governor Raimondo and the General Assembly established a progressive, effective package of business and economic development tools that have given businesses a reason to take a fresh look at Rhode Island. Since taking office, the Governor has included record investments in K-12 education in each of her budget proposals and has taken strides to make college and other post-secondary job training programs more affordable and accessible. The RhodeWorks initiative will modernize Rhode Island's bridges and put thousands of constructions workers on the job. To train a workforce that is prepared to meet businesses' needs, Governor Raimondo created the RealJobs RI program.
In part because of the success of these initiatives, Rhode Island set a new state record last month for private sector jobs (434,800), breaking a record set earlier this year.