Rhode Island was one of only 14 states to lose employment in September, according to data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Unemployment in the Ocean State fell to its lowest level since June 2008 (7.6%), but the “improvement” of that metric continues to result from the fact that more people are giving up and leaving the labor force than are losing their jobs, each month.
The first chart below shows the large (and likely-to-be-revised-downward) increase in employment through the first half of the year, plus the more modest increase and more rapid decrease in the labor force. Together these factors shaved almost two percentage points off the unemployment rate over the past year.
The second chart shows that both Massachusetts and Connecticut continue to surpass, or be close to, their peak labor forces and employment. Both other Southern New England states saw increases in employment in September.
The third chart shows that the unemployment rate would have increased to 11.0% in September, from 10.9% in August, if Rhode Island’s labor force hadn’t shrunk so much since the beginning of the recession.