The star performer among all the CCI indicators continues to be Employment Service Jobs. Not only has that indicator improved for the last 15 consecutive months, it did so this month (+1.3%) on top of a 7.4 percent gain one year ago. Recall, we had thought from the earlier data that this indicator had not improved for quite a while. So, such a strong performance from a leading labor market indicator is potentially very good news moving forward.
The other improving indicators generally reflected very positive momentum. US Consumer Sentiment rose by 5.4 percent, quite an improvement from January. Private Service-Producing Employment increased by 1.0 percent, its eleventh consecutive improvement. Manufacturing turned in its most impressive performance in quite a while. Total Manufacturing Hours rose by 5.2 percent, its ninth improvement in the last ten months, as both the workweek and employment rose. Along with this was a very strong increase in the Manufacturing Wage (+3.8%). So, Rhode Island’s manufacturing continues to mirror the national trend. Our Unemployment Rate fell again, from 11.8 percent one year ago to 11.2 percent this month. Unfortunately, it remains stuck well above ten percent. New Claims, a leading labor market indicator, fell by 6.5 percent in February. It is still unclear whether its trend will become one of declining values each month. Ultimately, its trend will be a critical determinant of future improvements in the Current Condition Index. The last improving indicator, Benefit Exhaustions, which reflects long-term unemployment, declined by 7.8 percent in February.