Unemployment Down in RI, but Labor Force Down More

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest seasonally adjusted state data shows Rhode Island’s unemployment rate falling to 10.9% in January, from 11.0% in December 2011 and 11.4% in January 2011.  However, the year-over-year figures tell a less optimistic story.

The number of unemployed Rhode Islanders fell from an approximated 64,400 to 61,300 (3,100) from January to January, but the total labor force dropped from 565,500 to 560,200 (5,300).  If those who left the labor force over the year were counted among the unemployed, unemployment would be 11.8%.

The following chart emphasizes that the improvement in the unemployment rate is manifestly not a positive sign, given the accelerated drop in the labor force from December, after a year of slow, downward drift.

RI Labor Force and Employment, January 2011 to January 2012