CRANSTON, R.I. - The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.1 percent in March, the Department of Labor and Training announced Thursday. The March rate was down two-tenths of a percentage point from the February rate of 7.3 percent. Last year the rate was 4.0 percent in March.
The U.S. unemployment rate was 6.0 percent in March, down two-tenths of a percentage point from February. The U.S. rate was 4.4 percent in March 2020.
The number of unemployed Rhode Island residents — those residents classified as available for and actively seeking employment — was 38,200, down 1,000 from February. Over the year, the number of unemployed residents increased by 15,500.
The number of employed Rhode Island residents was 503,400, up 3,800 from February. Last March there were 539,600 employed Rhode Island residents.
The Rhode Island labor force totaled 541,600 in March, up 2,900 from February and down 20,700 from March 2020 (562,300).
Rhode Island-Based Jobs
Nonfarm employment in Rhode Island rose from the revised February job figure of 464,600 to 466,900 in March, reflecting a gain of 2,300 jobs. Since the start of year, the local economy has added 9,100 jobs, or an average of 3,000 jobs per month.
Health Care & Social Assistance employment grew by 600 in March, led by gains reported in outpatient care medical facilities as well as gains reported in social assistance services.
The Construction sector and the Accommodation & Food Services sector each added 500 jobs in March. Specialty trade contractors led the job growth in the building trade, while all segments reported job gains in the hospitality and food services industry.
Employment in the Financial Activities sector grew by 400 in March, followed by a gain of 300 jobs in the Manufacturing sector. In Manufacturing, producers of non-durable goods ignited the job gains.
The number of jobs in both the Educational Services and Retail Trade sectors rose by 200 in March, while a gain of 100 jobs was reported in both the Professional & Business Services and Wholesale Trade sectors.
Offsetting the March job gains were job losses reported in the Government (-400), Information (-100) and Other Services (-100) sectors.
To help prevent the outbreak of the coronavirus, many industries in the state were ordered to close or operate with restrictions in March and April of 2020, resulting in the loss of 108,000 jobs. Through March 2021, the state's economy has recovered 67,700 or nearly 63 percent of the jobs lost during the shutdown. The Construction sector has recovered all the 4,200 jobs it lost during the pandemic shutdown. Large job recovery gains were also noted in the Retail Trade (87%), Wholesale Trade (82%) and Transportation & Utilities (81%) sectors.
Other employment sectors which have recovered at least half of the jobs lost during the pandemic restrictions include Manufacturing, recovering 77 percent of the jobs lost, followed by the Other Services (68%), Accommodation & Food Services (65%), Health Care & Social Assistance (62%) and Professional & Business Services (56%) sectors.
Financial Activities and Arts, Entertainment & Recreation have recovered 42 percent of the jobs they lost during the pandemic shutdown, while the Educational Services has regained 3 percent of the jobs lost. The numbers of jobs in the Information and Government sectors are still below pre-pandemic levels.
Rhode Island jobs are down 35,100 (-7.0%) from a year ago. Due to the unprecedented pandemic-related employment declines reported in March and April 2020, nearly all employment sectors have reported year-over-year job declines in March 2021 compared to March 2020. The Accommodation & Food Services (-8,900) sector led all sectors in year-over-year jobs losses, followed by the Health Care & Social Assistance (-6,000), Professional & Business Services (-3,800), Government (-3,500), Educational Services (-2,900), Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-2,600), Other Services (-2,200), Manufacturing (-1,300), and Retail Trade (-1,300) sectors.
Smaller annual declines were noted in the Transportation & Utilities (-900), Financial Activities (-800), Information (-800) and Wholesale Trade (-300) sectors.
The Construction (+200) sector was the lone sector to report an over-the-year job gain.
Manufacturing Hours and Earnings
In March, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $20.61 per hour, down thirty-two cents from February, but up seventy-one cents from March 2020.
Manufacturing employees worked an average of 37.8 hours per week in March, up one hour over the month, and up two hours and four-tenths from a year ago.