There are several major differences between these measures, and they don't always provide the same picture of how well our state's labor market is performing. The major difference is that these come from two separate surveys. Payroll employment is derived from the Current Employment Survey (CES) until those estimated values are eventually updated and linked to the much more inclusive sample, the Establishment Survey. The realigning of these, which occurs with the release of the January date each February, is called rebenchmarking. Resident employment is derived from the Household Survey. The unemployment rate and labor force also come from this survey. It too will see data revisions when the January data are released in a few weeks.
Two other differences are highly significant. The first of these is that resident employment includes the number of jobs held by Rhode Island residents, whether they work in Rhode Island or at other locations. So, persons working in other states are included in this measure. Second, self-employment is reflected in resident employment, but not in payroll employment.
Theoretically, payroll employment is considered to be the more reliable way to track employment, based primarily on the fact that it has a much larger sample (eventually -- the Establishment Survey). But resident employment matters a great deal for Rhode Island since we "rent" so many of our residents out to nearby states for their jobs, and small businesses are such a critical part of our state's economy. Since payroll employment gets so much attention here, often to the exclusion of resident employment, in this post I will take us all the way back to the late 1970s and view resident employment since that time period.
The chart below (click to enlarge) shows how much resident employment each month has changed from the same month in the previous year (i.e., the year-over-year change).