The unemployment rate for Rhode Island fell by one tenth of a percent to 10.8%, but total employment dropped by 80 people. That’s not even a “mixed picture,” though. The only reason the unemployment rate moved in a seemingly positive direction is that 471 more Rhode Islanders just gave up looking for work.
So if the unemployment rate is a positive sign, then the state’s motto might as well be “We hope people leave faster than they lose their jobs.” (Note for Instalanche visitors: Rhode Island’s official motto is just “Hope.”)
About the best that can be said for the Ocean State is that every other state in the union lost more employment than it did, except Utah, which saw a slight gain. That context is illustrated very well in an update to my chart showing labor force (employed plus looking for work) and employment for Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut as a percentage of each state’s January 2007 labor force.
The blue lines are labor force; the red lines are employment. Rhode Island is solid, Massachusetts dashed, and Connecticut dotted.
So, yes, Connecticut and Massachusetts saw steeper drops since June, especially in employment, but both states have been on the upswing since around March 2010. Rhode Island, meanwhile, has continued its slide. Worse still, our neighboring states (and the rest of the country, frankly) would have to enter into a dramatic nosedive while Rhode Island merely continued to drift down in order for the Ocean State to have real company in its misery.