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Rhode Island-Based Jobs Fell by 300 from January; February Unemployment Rate Increases to 7.3 Percent

CRANSTON, R.I. - The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in February, the Department of Labor and Training announced Thursday. The February rate was up one-tenth of a percentage point from the January rate of 7.2 percent. Last year the rate was 4.0 percent in February.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 6.2 percent in February, down one-tenth of a percentage point from January. The U.S. rate was 3.5 percent in February 2020.

The number of unemployed Rhode Island residents — those residents classified as available for and actively seeking employment — was 39,300, up 300 from January. Over the year, the number of unemployed residents increased by 17,100.

The number of employed Rhode Island residents was 499,600, down 1,600 from January. Last February there were 539,800 employed Rhode Island residents.

The Rhode Island labor force totaled 538,900 in February, down 1,300 from January and down 23,100 from February 2020 (562,000).

Rhode Island-Based Jobs

Nonfarm employment in Rhode Island fell from 463,200 in January to 462,900 in February, reflecting a loss of 300 jobs. Overall, the state has regained 63,700 or 59 percent of the 108,000 jobs lost due to the state-ordered shutdown and restrictions placed on local businesses between March and April 2020. In February 2021, Rhode-Island based jobs were down 44,300 from February 2020.

Educational Services employment fell by 1,900 in February, shedding most of the 2,200 jobs it added January.

Smaller February job losses were noted in the Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-400), Transportation & Utilities (-300) and Financial Activities (-200) sectors.

Offsetting some of the February job losses were job gains reported in eight industry sectors. Within the private sector Professional & Business Services (+600), Other Services (+500), Accommodation & Food Services (+400) Health Care & Social Assistance (+300), Manufacturing (+200), Retail Trade (+200) and Wholesale Trade (+100) all added jobs over the month. In addition, employment rose in the Government (+200) sector as well.

The number of jobs in the Construction, Information and Mining & Logging sectors remained unchanged in February.

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 February 2021, the state's economy has recovered 63,700 or 59 percent of the jobs lost during the shutdown. The Transportation & Utilities sector has recovered 86 percent or 3,100 of the 3,600 jobs it lost during the shutdown. Large recovery gains were also noted in the Construction and Retail Trade sectors with each sector recovering nearly 86 percent of their jobs losses.

Other employment sectors which have recovered at least half of the job lost during the pandemic restrictions include Manufacturing and Wholesale Trade, each regaining nearly 73 percent, followed by the Other Services (69%), Accommodation & Food Services (63%), Professional & Business Services (55%) and Health Care & Social Assistance (55%).

Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (40%) and Financial Activities (11%) have recovered less than half of the jobs they lost during the pandemic shutdown. While the numbers of jobs in the Information, Government and Educational Services sectors are still at or below pre-pandemic levels.

Rhode Island jobs are down 44,300 (8.7%) 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 February 2021 compared to February2020. The Accommodation & Food Services (-12,000) sector led all sectors in year-over-year jobs losses, followed by the Health Care & Social Assistance (-7,900), Professional & Business Services (-4,200), Educational Services (-3,700), Government (-3,600), Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (-2,900), Other Services (-2,400),Manufacturing (-1,800), Financial Activities (-1,700) and Retail Trade(-1,600).

Smaller annual declines were noted in the Information (-800), Wholesale Trade (-600), Construction (-600) and Transportation & Utilities (-500) sectors.

Manufacturing Hours and Earnings

In February, production workers in the Manufacturing sector earned $20.89 per hour, up thirty-four cents from January, and up one dollar and forty-four cents from February 2020. Manufacturing employees worked an average of 36.8 hours per week in February, up two-tenths of an hour over the month, but down seven-tenths of an hour from a year ago.