While Rhode Island’s January employment results from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) generally indicated continuing stagnation, one difference from last year is that the first results for the year didn’t show a large jump up that will later be revised down. They showed almost no bump; we’ll have to wait until next year to find out whether the trend of downward revisions will continue.
In a nutshell, the state gained 194 employed residents in January from revised numbers for December. (From unrevised numbers, employment would actually show a drop of 4,096.) The labor force shrank by 436 (thus explaining the paradoxical improvement of the employment rate), while 1,200 jobs based in Rhode Island disappeared according to revised numbers. The following chart shows the labor force and employment results.
In January, the block of New England states ceased losing employment, with Rhode Island’s 0.04% increase in trailing the region significantly. In Massachusetts and Connecticut, the labor force proved more resilient than employment, which is the opposite from Rhode Island’s experience and which may indicate more optimism in the other two states. Rhode Island remains the only Southern New England state below its January 2007 level of employment and labor force.
The third chart shows what Rhode Island’s unemployment rate would have looked like had the labor force not been evaporating since January 2007. Rhode Island would have seen its steady improvements since January 2012 come to a halt starting last summer, holding at 9.1% since then, rather than working its way down to the official 5.3%.