CRANSTON – As 2013 came to a close, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Rhode Island inched upward to 9.1 percent, a one-tenth of a percentage point increase from 9 percent in November.
That’s the word from the R.I. Department of Labor and Training, which notes nonetheless that that figure was eight-tenths of a percentage point less than the 9.9 percent rate for December 2012.
Rhode Island’s December rate was 2.4 percentage points greater than the national rate of 6.7 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and 1.2 percentage points year over year, the state said.
While the number of unemployed Rhode Island residents dropped by 5,700 over 2013, it was increased by 400 in December to 49,900. Those are residents who are available for and actively seeking employment.
The yearly decline in the number of unemployed Ocean State residents was not a simple piece of good news, however, as the state’s labor force fell in both month-over-month and year-over-year terms. At the end of the year, the size of the state’s labor force was 550,500, a decline of 300 from November and 12,700 from the end of 2012.
At the same time, the number of employed Rhode Island residents dropped by 6,900 in 2013, and by 700 in the month of December alone to 500,700, according to the report.
While estimated nonfarm payroll jobs declined from November to December here by 1,500 to a total of 469,200, the local economy actually grew by 4,600 jobs for four consecutive months, so over the course of 2013, jobs increased by 3,600.
The month-over-month decrease in Rhode Island jobs were due, in part, to losses of 400 jobs each in educational services, construction and the “other services” sector. In addition, financial activities lost 300 jobs; professional and business services as well as health care and social assistance lost 200 each; while both arts, entertainment and recreation, and mining and logging lost 100 each.
Offsetting job losses were gains in accommodation and food services (+300); retail (+200) and manufacturing (+100).
Year over year, total nonfarm employment rose by 3,600, with job gains in professional and business services (+1,400), accommodation and food services (+1,000), retail (+900), construction (+700) and arts, entertainment and recreation (+700). Smaller gains were reported in manufacturing (+300) and transportation and utilities (+100).