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RI’s Employment - On the Upswing?

Monday, February 07, 2011


The national unemployment rate plummeted to 9% last month, the lowest it has been since mid-2009, announced the U.S. Labor Department on Friday. The figure, however, may be misleading -- when unemployed people stop looking for jobs, the government no longer considers them unemployed. Though the Labor Department survey found that the number of unemployed people fell by more than 600,000, a separate survey of company payrolls showed a significant discrepancy -- a dismal 36,000 increase in net jobs.

"Winter weather can cause losses in construction and manufacturing," said Laura Hart of the RI Department of Labor and Training. Harsh snowstorms last month led to a loss of 70,000 jobs across the construction, transportation, and warehousing industries.

"But the snow can create jobs in areas like plowing," Hart added.

The growth forecast is also a mixed bag. According to economic consulting firm Moody's Analytics and the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Employment Statistics survey, rebound will be slow -- a national 1.4% increase in jobs over the course of 2011. It will take nearly a 1% yearly increase in current employment just to keep up with population growth, and double that to make a significant dent in the unemployment rate.

Rhode Island on the Upswing?

Rhode Island, however, is ahead of the curve with a projected 2.4% increase for 2011 -- the seventh highest in the country.

According to Moody's forecast -- based on demographic trends like population growth, living and business costs, global impacts on regional economies -- Rhode Island is leading the country in projected increase across several industries. The Ocean State ranks first in retail growth, with a projected 3.7% increase, third in leisure and hospitality with a 5.5% increase, and fourth in government, though projected increase is only .1%. The state also falls within the top ten for the information and communications industry as well as manufacturing.  


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