Leading the country in the percentage drop of people who say that they are employed, Rhode Island’s unemployment rate skipped to 9.1% in August. According to the statistics published by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 4,469 fewer Rhode Islanders reported being employed than did the month before, and 3,729 fewer people reported that they’re either working or looking for work.
If the second number (the “labor force”) had remained the same, August’s unemployment rate would have been 9.7%. August nearly reduced all employment gains in Rhode Island over the past year.
As can be seen in the first chart, below, Rhode Island’s labor force (which hasn’t been this small since August 2002) is only 3,395 people higher than the number of people working just before the recession started. Another drop like August’s will mean that about the same number of people who were unemployed in January 2007 have since completely dropped out of the labor force.
If the current employment existed with the same-sized labor force as at the beginning of the chart, the unemployment rate would be 12.9%.
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.