If you’re planning to read Rhode Island’s monthly employment report for February, I’d suggest a stiff drink first.
The number of Rhode Island residents with a job fell to a new low of 497,300, down by nearly 52,000 since employment peaked more than five years ago in January 2007, the Department of Labor and Training said Friday.
The unemployment rate ticked up to 11%, a decrease of less than a percentage point from the peak rate of 11.9% in January 2010. The unemployment rate was 4.8% in January 2007.
The size of Rhode Island’s labor force shrank for the 22nd month in a row. There are now 559,000 Rhode Islanders officially classified as employed or actively looking for a job, down by nearly 18,000 since the peak in January 2007 and down by nearly 14,000 since a short-lived uptick topped out in April 2010.
A separate survey of Rhode Island employers offered a sliver of good news, showing 458,400 jobs on their payrolls, an increase of 500 from January – the worst month of the downturn. Payroll employment in the state is down by 38,000 since it peaked in December 2006.
Another possible reason for optimism in the employer survey was the addition of 700 temp jobs, which can sometimes be a precursor to an increase in permanent full-time positions. Nor have all industries been in decline over the last year: education added 2,000 jobs and professional services added 1,100.
• Related: RI facing ‘a lost decade’ after jobless rate hits 11% in new data (Feb. 29)