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Rhode Island Manufacturing Job Losses Adding to Recession

Posted on November 7, 2008

The State of Rhode Island currently has the highest unemployment rate in the country, and the loss of Rhode Island manufacturing jobs is only adding to what some are calling a “blue-collar” recession.

During September 2008, according to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state had an unemployment rate of 8.8 percent. Total non-farm employment came in at 478,200 workers, down from 479,500 during August and a decrease of 2.6 percent from last year. The manufacturing industry employed 47,400 workers, down from 47,600 during August and a decrease of 6.5 percent from last year.

Job losses in other blue-collar industries, such as office and construction jobs, also are adding to the problem. During September, Rhode Island’s construction industry employed 20,800 workers, down from 21,000 during August and a decrease of 3.3 percent from last year. The state’s professional and business services industry employed 53,800 during September, down from 53,900 during August and a decrease of 2.2 percent from last year.

According to an article by The Providence Journal, construction jobs began to disappear when the housing market collapsed. At the same time, manufacturing jobs are being cut, leaving many workers, some who don’t have a college or high school education, without work.

While the construction and manufacturing industries comprise only 16 percent of all jobs in Rhode Island, the two industries account for one-third of all job losses during the past year. The state is expected to lose 10,000 more jobs during the next 12 months.

Rhode Island has many factors working against it, including its geographic location, high taxes, high energy costs and high labor unionization rates. While the state spends $200 million to $250 million per year on research, that amount isn’t nearly as high as other states, such as Massachusetts, which spends $2.3 billion each year on research.

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