With the help of a revision in the way the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calculates its results, Rhode Island’s unemployment rate fell below the 10% barrier in December for the first time in years. And with the help of people giving up their quest for work, it notched down to 9.8% in January. That’s despite the fact that the state’s total employment fell for the first time since September 2011 (according to the revised numbers).
The first chart below shows that both labor force and employment turned downward in January, but since labor force fell even more than employment, the number of people who are technically “unemployed” went down as well. The second chart shows that the Ocean State still has a long way to go to reach its January 2007 level of employment, and once again remains well behind Massachusetts and Connecticut, although Connecticut has been closing the gap through its own downslide.
Nationwide, Rhode Island is still tied for the worst unemployment rate in the country, no longer with Nevada, however. The Ocean State’s last-place partner is now California, although the Golden State’s reason couldn’t be more different: California has been adding employment, but people are entering (or returning to) the workforce too quickly for the unemployment rate to go down.