October 2015 Employment: Still Winning by Losing

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Every New England state lost employment in October, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), making the region one-half of the 12 states for which that was the case.  Once again, the supposed improvement in the unemployment rate occurred only because the 630 Rhode Islanders who said they were no longer working were far outnumbered by the 1,636 who said that they have stopped looking for work.

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Because all of New England joined Rhode Island in the slip, the lines are all pointed in the same direction, although Massachusetts and Connecticut had built up much more of a buffer while recovering over the past few years, to the point that they were both above their pre-recession employment.  They still are; Rhode Island still isn’t.

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Similarly, because all of the non-New England states that lost employment in October have been doing better than the Ocean State, with the exception of New England, Rhode Island lost ground, falling closer to the back of the nation when it comes to recovery of lost employment.  Rhode Island is seventh from the bottom by this measure.

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The final chart shows October employment in Rhode Island compared with the number of jobs based in the state (which tends to be a more accurate measurement).  Although the number of jobs in the state (the lighter area) increased slightly, the number has been more or less stagnant for a year or a year and a half.  This trend is one reason to expect a significant downward revision of the employment numbers (the darker area) when the BLS adjusts its numbers in January.

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