CRANSTON, R.I. - The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 16.3 percent in May, the Department of Labor and Training announced Thursday. The May rate was down 1.8 percentage points from the revised April rate of 18.1 percent. Last year the rate was 3.6 percent in May.
The U.S. unemployment rate was 13.3 percent in May, down from 14.7 percent in April. The U.S. rate was 3.6 percent in May 2019.
The number of unemployed Rhode Island residents — those residents classified as available for and actively seeking employment — was 84,900, down 10,900 from April. Over the year, the number of unemployed residents increased by 64,800.
The number of employed Rhode Island residents was 437,300, up 4,000 from April. Last May there were 534,200 employed Rhode Island residents.
The Rhode Island labor force totaled 522,200 in May, down 6,900 from April and down 32,100 from May 2019 (554,300).
Rhode Island-Based Jobs
Rhode Island jobs rebounded slightly in May reflecting Phase I of the reopening of the Rhode Island economy. Establishment employment totaled 423,400 in May, a gain of 13,100 jobs from the revised April figure of 410,300. The May increase represents 13.4 percent of the 98,100 jobs lost when economic activity was halted in March and April due to the coronavirus pandemic. Over the year, jobs are down 79,900.
In May, employment in Accommodation & Food Services grew by 7,000 after shedding 30,900 jobs in April and 3,300 in March. Restaurants and other eating places led the gains within this sector as outdoor dining was allowed to begin. The accommodations segment remained idle.
Retail Trade added 3,000 jobs in May as non-critical retail was allowed to reopen with capacity limits. Positive gains were noted in department stores, motor vehicle and parts dealers and building material and garden supply stores.
The Professional & Business Services sector added 2,200 jobs in May, propelled by the Administrative and Waste Services sector, mainly landscaping services.
After reporting a loss of 13,800 jobs last month, the Health Care & Social Assistance sector brought back 1,200 jobs in May as elective procedures were allowed to resume with strict safety precautions. Offices of dentists and offices of physicians were the two leading industries in terms of job growth within this subsector.
The Educational Services sector added 1,000 jobs in May after shedding 3,600 jobs last month.
Job gains in May were also reported in the Financial Activities (+400), Manufacturing (+100) and Other Services (+100) sectors.
A total of five employment sectors lost jobs in May, led by the Wholesale Trade sector which reported a loss of 700 jobs.
Employment in the Transportation & Utilities sector fell by 600 from April as job losses were noted in the truck transportation and transit/ground passenger transportation subsectors.
Government employment dropped by 400 in May, led by declines reported within local government.
Also, in May, the Construction and Information sectors lost 100 jobs each, while the number of jobs in Arts, Entertainment and Recreation remained unchanged.
The February job count marked a record high employment level for Rhode Island just before the state's economy temporarily halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. On a percentage basis the largest loss was reported in the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation sector down 59.8 percent, or 4,900, from February. Other large percentage declines were also noted in the Accommodation & Food Services (-51.3%), Other Services (-27.5%) and Transportation and Utilities (-26.5%).
The Health Care and Social Assistance sector lost 17.4 percent of its employment from February, followed by Construction (-13.3%), Retail Trade (-13.2%), Professional & Business Services (-13.0%), Educational Services (-11.9%), Wholesale Trade (-8.3%), Information (-5.5%), Manufacturing (-5.3%), Financial Activities (-4.5%), and Government (-3.2%).
Manufacturing Hours and Earnings
In May, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $20.56 per hour, up eighty-six cents from April, and up ninety-seven cents from May 2019.
Manufacturing employees worked an average of 34.5 hours per week in May, down one and four-tenths hours over the month, and down four and four-tenth hours from a year ago.
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' May labor force data and job counts on June 19, 2020. The Department of Labor and Training is scheduled to release the June 2020 labor force figures and job counts at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 16, 2020.
About DLT: The Department of Labor and Training (DLT) offers employment services, educational services and economic opportunities to both individuals and employers. DLT protects Rhode Island's workforce by enforcing labor laws, prevailing wage rates and workplace health and safety standards. The department also provides temporary income support to unemployed and temporarily disabled workers. For more information, please call the Department of Labor and Training at (401) 462-8000 or visit the website at www.dlt.ri.gov.