Updated March 30 at 4:30pm
work force

R.I. jobless rate unchanged in May; 4th month of job gains


PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island’s unemployment rate held steady at 10.9 percent in May, even though the state picked up an additional 1,300 jobs for the month, the R.I. Department of Labor and Training said Friday.

It’s the fourth consecutive month the state has seen job gains.

While Rhode Island’s jobless rate remained unchanged, the U.S. rate rose a tenth of a percentage point in May to 9.1 percent. The job picture looked much rosier in Massachusetts, where unemployment sank two-tenths of a percentage point to 7.6 percent.

Rhode Island's net gain of 1,300 jobs pushed the state’s nonfarm payrolls to 463,800 in May. Rhode Island had 4,200 more jobs than it had a year earlier, when unemployment was 11.7 percent.

The number of unemployed residents – those classified as available for work and actively seeking employment – sank by 100 in May to 62,000. But, at the same time, the state’s labor force declined by 1,400 for the month to 569,700, down 6,800 from the May 2010 figures.

Also, the number of employed Rhode Island residents decreased by 1,400 in May to 507,700.

The average weekly claims for unemployment benefits decreased by 3,817 to 32,113 in May, down 10.6 percent from April.

The DLT said the professional and business services sector saw the biggest gain for the month, adding 1,000 jobs, mostly in professional services, temporary help and landscaping. The “other services” picked up 700 positions, driven by gain in the personal care services and civic and social organizations/industry groups.

Gains also came in educational services (600), retail trade (500), health care and social assistance (100) and arts, entertainment and recreation (100).

Accommodation and food services lost 600 jobs in May, mainly due to reduced hiring among in full-service restaurants, the DLT said. Also shedding jobs were construction (600), financial activities (200), information (100), transportation and utilities (100) and government (100).

Employment in manufacturing, wholesale trade, and natural resources and mining were unchanged for the month.

Manufacturing-production workers in Rhode Island earned an average hourly wage of $15.74 in May, up 32 cents from April and up 98 cents from a year earlier.

The state’s average manufacturing work week in May was 39.4 hours, down a tenth of an hour from April and up a half-hour from last year, DLT said.


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