Rhode Island’s relatively steady unemployment rate for July, at 8.9%, is highly misleading. According to the statistics published by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 2,379 fewer Rhode Islanders reported being employed than did the month before, but 2,538 fewer people reported that they’re either working or looking for work, so the official unemployment rate held relatively steady. July erased all of the state’s miniscule monthly gains back to last October and brought the labor force back to its early-2005 level.
The first chart below shows how dramatic July’s drop was. Although all but four states in the entire country saw employment decreases, Rhode Island’s drop was seventh steepest. In New England, Rhode Island’s decline was orders of magnitude greater than the other states’, which mainly held steady. Connecticut was one of the four states in the country that saw an increase.
The second chart shows that the Ocean State remains well behind Massachusetts and Connecticut. A comparison of this chart from month to month would show Rhode Island’s relative position worsening.