Jobless rate drops to 8.8% in April, as workforce contracts more

EVEN AS THE STATE JOBLESS RATE FELL last month to its lowest level since October 2008, the state workforce shed 700 people from March to April.
Posted 5/16/13

CRANSTON – Rhode Island’s unemployment rate fell to 8.8 percent in April, the 10th consecutive monthly drop in the jobless rate and the lowest it has been since October 2008, the R.I. Department of Labor and Training said Thursday.

The unemployment rate declined 0.3 percentage points from 9.1 percent last month and fell 1.8 percentage points from April 2012.

The national unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage points in April to 7.5 percent.

There were 49,400 Rhode Islanders without jobs in April, down 1,700 people from the 51,100 unemployed in March and 9,700 fewer than the total unemployed in April 2012.

The 508,900 Rhode Islanders with jobs in April represented an increase of 1,200 people from last month and 9,100 from April 2012.

Also driving the drop in the unemployment rate was the continued decline in the size of the state labor force, which shrank by 700 people from March to 558,200 people.

The 467,400 non-farm jobs based in Rhode Island in April rose by 500 jobs from the revised March total of 466,900.

April job gains were led by the accommodation and food services sector, which posted an increase of 500 jobs in April.

Manufacturing employment increased by 400 jobs due to hiring of workers making durable goods.

The professional and business services sector gained 300 jobs in April thanks to hiring by landscapers and employment services.

Both health care and education services added 300 jobs from March to April, while “other services” gained 200 jobs and the arts and entertainment sector added 100 workers.

Those job gains were offset by an unexpected 500-worker monthly decline in the construction industry in April, a time when building projects are typically ramping up.

Retailers shed 400 jobs from March to April, while financial services dropped 300 jobs, transportation lost 200 jobs and wholesale trade lost 200 jobs.

Government employment was flat.

While the number of Rhode Island manufacturing jobs grew in April, the average manufacturing wage of $18.89 per hour declined 8 cents from March.

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