Local Area Unemployment Statistics

This monthly program provides labor force, resident employment and unemployment estimates, and unemployment rates for state and sub-state areas based on information obtained from a household survey known as the Current Population Survey (CPS). While the national unemployment rate is derived directly from data collected through this survey, sample sizes in each state are too small to provide reliable monthly estimates for the states directly. Therefore, all states including Rhode Island calculate their unemployment rates using statistical models developed by BLS. The models incorporate the number of jobs at businesses and current Unemployment Insurance claims data to refine the individual state estimates provided by the CPS survey.

2019 Benchmark Results

Questions and Answers on Changes to Seasonal Adjustment for Model-Based Estimates

Bureau of Labor Statistics' Local Area Unemployment Statistics program.


United States and Regional Unemployment Statistics

United States - Labor Force Statistics for 1978-present:

New England - Unemployment Rates for 1978-present:

States Ranked by Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates (Excel)
States Annual Average Unemployment Rates (Excel)


Rhode Island Labor Force Statistics

Rhode Island - Labor Force Statistics for 1976-present

Historic State Unemployment Rates

Distribution of the Civilian Noninstitutional Population for Rhode Island Download pdf file from the Bureau of Labor Statistics


Rhode Island City, Town, and Sub-State Labor Force Statistics

Monthly labor force, employment, unemployment, and the unemployment rate for the state, cities, towns, counties and areas for current month and the prior 12 months.

Local Area Unemployment Statistics Report

Historic Local Area Unemployment Statistics Report
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City and Town Labor Force Statistics - 1990-Present
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County Labor Force Statistics - 1990-Present
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Other Rhode Island Sub-state Areas Labor Force Statistics - 1990-Present

Annual Average Labor Force Statistics for Sub-state Areas
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Rhode Island Alternate Measures of Labor Underutilization

Fourth Quarter 2019 – Third Quarter 2020
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The unemployment rate; which refers to the percentage of individuals in the labor force without a job, who are available for and actively seeking work; is the primary measurement of changes in labor underutilization. Unemployment rates are derived each month from the Current Population Survey (CPS). There are six alternative measures available through the CPS which provide narrower as well as broader definitions of labor underutilization. These alternative measures, which are referred to as U1 through U-6, are available on a quarterly basis and are based on the most recent four quarters of CPS data

These state unemployment averages which are derived solely from the CPS data are not strictly comparable to the official state average unemployment rates, which also incorporate establishment employment estimates, unemployment insurance claims data and historic trends. However, these alternative measures can provide insight into the volume of states’ discouraged populations and those working part-time for economic reasons.

  • The U-3 rate is the rate closest to the standard definition of unemployment - individuals in the labor force without a job, who are available for and actively seeking work - Rhode Island’s average unemployment rate for the four quarters ending September 2020 obtained directly from the CPS survey* was 8.2 percent.

  • Expanding this definition to include “discouraged workers” (U-4), individuals who want a job, but have given up looking for work because they believe there is no work available for them, would yield an unemployment rate of 8.4 percent, or two-tenths a percentage point higher (+0.2%) than the standard definition.

  • The inclusion of discouraged workers and those that are “marginally attached” (U-5), individuals who want a job, are currently available for work, but have not looked in the past twelve months for a variety of reasons other than discouragement, yields an unemployment rate of 9.0 percent or eight-tenths of a percentage point higher than the standard definition.

  • The broadest measure of unemployment (U-6), which includes discouraged workers, marginally attached workers and those working part-time for economic reasons, yields an unemployment rate of 13.2 percent, 5.0 percentage points higher than the rate calculated using the official definition, with most of the increase (+4.2 percentage points) associated with the involuntary part-time worker.
  • U3 -total unemployed persons as a percentage of the civilian labor force

    U4 -total unemployed persons plus discouraged workers as a percentage of the civilian labor force plus discouraged workers

    U5 -total unemployed persons plus discouraged workers plus all other marginally attached workers as a percentage of the civilian labor force.

    U6 -total unemployed persons plus discouraged workers, other marginally attached workers, and all those employed part-time for economic reasons, as a percentage of the civilian labor force.

    *Rhode Island’s official state average unemployment rate for this period was 8.5 percent

    Bureau of Labor Statistics' Alternate Measures of Labor Underutilization Website



Labor Surplus Areas for Rhode Island

October 1, 2020 - September 30, 2021

Effective October 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, released the following list of Labor Surplus Areas (LSA) for the State of Rhode Island:

  • New Shoreham

This list will remain in effect until September 30, 2021. Employers located in the labor surplus area may be given preference in bidding on federal procurement contracts. The purpose in providing such preference is to help direct the government’s procurement dollars into areas where people are in the most severe economic need based on their high unemployment rates.

Classification of Labor Surplus Areas

In order to be classified as a labor surplus area, a civil jurisdiction must have had an unemployment rate during the previous two calendar years (January 2018-December 2019) which was at least 20 percent above the national average unemployment rate (including Puerto Rico) for the same two year reference period. A floor of 6.0 percent is used during periods of low national unemployment in order for an area to qualify as a labor surplus area. The national average unemployment rate (including Puerto Rico) during the period of January 2018 through December 2019 was 3.38 percent. Twenty percent higher than the national unemployment rate is rounded to 4.6 percent. Since 4.6 is below the floor unemployment rate of 6.00 percent, a civil jurisdiction must have a two-year unemployment rate of 6.00 in order to be classified as a labor surplus area.