CRANSTON, R.I. - The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March was 4.6 percent, up one and two-tenths percentage points from February the Department of Labor and Training announced Thursday. Over the year, the unemployment rate is up one percentage point from the March 2019 rate of 3.6 percent. The over-the-month increase is the largest on record and is attributed to early effects of COVID-19.
The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in March, up nine-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and up six-tenths of a percentage point over the year.
The number of unemployed Rhode Island residents - those residents classified as available for and actively seeking employment - was 26,300, up 7,500 from February. Over the year, the number of unemployed residents increased by 6,200.
The number of employed Rhode Island residents was 540,300, up 500 from February. Over the year, the number of employed Rhode Island residents was up 6,000 from March 2019 (534,300).
The Rhode Island labor force totaled 566,600 in March up 8,100 from February and up 12,200 from March 2019 (554,400).
Rhode Island-Based Jobs
Rhode Island's all-time high total nonfarm employment level of 502,800 fell by 5,600 from the revised February employment level of 508,400. Initial impact from the COVID-19 pandemic was felt in the Accommodation & Food Services sector which lost 2,000 jobs in March.
In addition, the number of jobs fell in Professional & Business Services (-1,400), as well as the Health Care & Social Assistance (-1,000), Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-900), Government (-400), Educational Services (-100) and Transportation & Utilities (100) sectors.
Two industry sectors, Retail Trade (+200) and Financial Activities (+100) added jobs in March. The job count in several industries remained unchanged from February, including the Construction, Information, Manufacturing, Mining & Logging, Other Services and Wholesale Trade industries.
Over the year, total nonfarm jobs in Rhode Island fell by 200, the first year-over-year loss since 2010.
In the past 12 months, jobs are down in Professional & Business Services (-1,200), Other Services (-1,100), Accommodation & Food Services (-900), Information (-400), Manufacturing (-400) and Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-200).
Offsetting some of the job declines since March 2019, were gains reported in the Transportation & Utilities (+900), Health Care & Social Assistance (+800), Financial Activities (+800), Educational Services (+400), Government (+400), Retail Trade (+300), Wholesale Trade (+200) and Construction (+200).
Manufacturing Hours and Earnings
In March, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $19.89 per hour, up forty-four cents from February, and up twenty-two cents from March 2019.
Manufacturing employees worked an average of 36 hours per week in March, down one and a half hour over the month, and down one and six-tenths hours from a year ago.
The effects of COVID-19 on Rhode Island's March labor force statistics and jobs count: Every month, nationwide surveys of households (for labor force statistics) and businesses (for job counts) are conducted to reflect household and business activities for the week which includes the 12th of every month. For March, this was the week of March 8th - March 14th. This reference week predated many business and school closings that occurred later in the month in Rhode Island.
*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 www.dlt.ri.gov/lmi. Additional information on procedures for producing Current Employment Statistics (CES) estimates is available on the BLS website at www.bls.gov/sae/cesprocs.htm. BLS will be releasing all states' March labor force data and job counts on April 17, 2020. The Department of Labor and Training is scheduled to release the April 2020 labor force figures and job counts at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 21, 2020.