Rhode Island’s unemployment rate hit 8.1% in December

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s unemployment rate climbed to 8.1% in December as the state lost 6,300 jobs, state labor officials said Thursday.

The December rate was up from November’s 7.3% rate and December 2019′s 3.5% rate. It was also higher than the national unemployment rate of 6.7% for December, which was unchanged from November.

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training said in a statement that the state’s three-week economic “pause” from Nov. 30 through Dec. 20, which imposed temporary restrictions to slow the resurgent virus during the holidays, was the primary driver of the local job losses.

State officials said there were 44,000 unemployed Rhode Islanders out of work and looking for a job in December.

The Providence Journal reports the state is down 46,500 jobs since the pandemic started in March and upended economies worldwide.