Press Releases


Rhode Island-Based Jobs Fell 88,800 from March; April Unemployment Rate Rose to 17.0 Percent

CRANSTON, R.I. - The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 17.0 percent in April, reflecting the impact of COVID-19 and efforts to contain it, the Department of Labor and Training announced Thursday. Rhode Island's unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in March and 3.6 percent in April 2019.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 14.7 percent in April, up from 4.4 percent in March and 3.6 percent in April 2019.

The number of unemployed Rhode Island residents - those residents classified as available for and actively seeking employment - was 90,300, up 63,800 from March. Over the year, the number of unemployed residents increased by 70,200.

The number of employed Rhode Island residents was 440,300, down 98,400 from March. Last April there were 534,200 employed Rhode Island residents.

The Rhode Island labor force totaled 530,600 in April, down 34,600 from March and down 23,700 from April 2019 (554,300).

Rhode Island-Based Jobs

After recording a record high 508,400 jobs in February 2020, the April seasonally adjusted job count fell to 409,700 - a level not seen since February 1984. Efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic hit the Rhode Island economy hard as the number of nonfarm jobs fell by 88,800 in April, following a revised loss of 9,900 jobs in March. The total number of Rhode Island-based jobs lost between February and April was 98,700.

Employment dropped in all major industry sectors, with heavy job losses reported in Leisure & Hospitality. In April, employment in Accommodation & Food Services, one component of Leisure & Hospitality, plummeted by 31,300, or 63 percent. In addition to the restaurants, drinking places, caterers and food service contractors that were hit hard by the virus, the states two hotel casinos were temporarily closed.

The Health Care & Social Assistance sector shed 14,300 (-17.5%) jobs in April, as declines were felt in all phases of healthcare including offices of physicians, dentists, other health care practitioners and nursing and residential care facilities. Among the social assistance component, services for the elderly and disabled, individual and family services, vocational rehabilitation services and child day care services were all negatively impacted by the pandemic.

Professional & Business Services lost 10,100 (-15.0%) jobs in April as sharp losses occurred in temporary help services.

In April, the number of jobs in Retail Trade declined by 8,700 or 18.0 percent. Department stores, motor vehicle and parts dealers, clothing and clothing accessories stores and health and personal care stores were among the hardest hit Retail Trade subsectors.

Employment in the Other Services sector fell by 6,900, a 31.1 percent decrease. Personal and laundry services and membership association and organizations were industries that reported large job declines.

Sizeable job losses attributed to the coronavirus were also reported in the Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-3,700), Educational Services (-2,900), Construction (-2,700), Transportation & Utilities (-2,700), Manufacturing (-2,200), Financial Activities (-1,700) and Government (-1,000).

Smaller April job losses were noted in the Information and Wholesale Trade sectors, with jobs declining by 400 and 200, respectively.

Over the year, substantial job losses were reported among the Accommodation & Food Services (-33,600), Health Care & Social Assistance (-14,500), Professional & Business Services (-10,900), Retail Trade (-8,700) and Other Services (7,900) sectors.

Significant year-over-year declines were also noted in Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-4,700), Educational Services (-3,000), Construction (-2,800), Manufacturing (-2,600), Transportation & Utilities (-2,200), Financial Activities (-1,300), Government (-1,200) and Information (-600).

The Wholesale Trade (+200) sector was the lone industry sector to report a job increase from April 2019.

Manufacturing Hours and Earnings

In April, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $19.71 per hour, down nineteen cents from March, but up twenty-eight cents from April 2019.

Manufacturing employees worked an average of 35.9 hours per week in April, up five-tenths of an over the month, but down two and a half hours from a year ago.

*Refers to the number of new and reopened claims filed by UI beneficiaries and claims filed by those already collecting UI in the week that includes the 12th of the month.

Methodology: The unemployment figures are based largely on a survey of households in Rhode Island and measure the unemployment status of people who live in the state. Unemployment rates prior to 1976 are not recognized by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as official since the methodology used at that time is not comparable to today's methods. The establishment of employment figures is derived from a survey of businesses in Rhode Island and measures the number of jobs in the state. Rhode Island labor market information is available at Additional information on procedures for producing Current Employment Statistics (CES) estimates is available on the BLS website at BLS will be releasing all states' April labor force data and job counts on May 22, 2020. The Department of Labor and Training is scheduled to release the May 2020 labor force figures and job counts at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 18, 2020.

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  • Department or agency: Department of Labor and Training: Press Releases
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  • Release date: 05-21-2020

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