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Industrial employment in Rhode Island has fallen 8.9 percent since the beginning of the recession according to the 2010 Rhode Island Manufacturers Register, an industrial directory published annually by Manufacturers' News Inc. MNI reports Rhode Island lost 6,337 manufacturing jobs since December 2007, with 2,878 jobs lost between December 2007 and December 2008 and 3,459 industrial jobs from 2008 to December of 2009. Over the same period of time, Rhode Island lost 216 manufacturers, or ten percent of its industrial companies.
Manufacturers' News reports Rhode Island is now home to 1,992 manufacturers employing 64,618 workers. Rhode Island's losses are among the highest in New England with Maine's industrial sector down 7.7 percent, New Hampshire's down 7.5 percent, Massachusetts' down 6.4 percent, and Vermont's down 5.6 percent, according to earlier MNI reports.
"As with the entire nation, the recession continues to hit Rhode Island's core sectors, while the faltering housing market has affected industries such as wood products and building products," says Tom Dubin, president of the Evanston, Ill.-based publishing company, which has been surveying industry since 1912.
Employment in the jewelry sector experienced the sharpest decline, down 27.6 percent over the past 24 months, following the closure of jewelry manufacturer Colibri Group, among others. As a result, industrial machinery and equipment has overtaken jewelry manufacturing as the state's second largest sector. Industrial machinery now accounts for 6,336 manufacturing jobs, down 2.1 percent over 24 months, while jewelry currently accounts for 5,214 jobs.
The state's top sector remains metal fabricating, with 6,912 jobs, down 10.6 percent over the two-year period.
All other sectors in Rhode Island lost jobs within the past two years and include textiles/apparel, down 23 percent; chemicals, down 19.5 percent; rubber/plastics, down 13.1 percent; primary metals, down 10 percent; printing/publishing, down 8.9 percent; stone/clay/glass, down 8.3 percent; lumber/wood, down 6.3 percent; transportation equipment, down 5.3 percent; furniture/fixtures, down 4.5 percent; electronics, down 2.2 percent; and food products, down 2.1 percent.
Some bright spots have emerged within the two-year period including the expansion of insulation-maker Aspen Aerogels in East Providence and the expansion of Concordia's medical supply plant in Warwick.
MNI's city data shows Providence remains the state's top city for manufacturing employment, accounting for 9,623 industrial jobs, down 10.4 percent over the past 24 months. Second-ranked Pawtucket accounts for 7,402 industrial jobs, down 4.5 percent over the past two years. Industrial jobs in Cranston declined 6.1 percent, with the city home to 5,709 jobs. North Kingstown is home to 4,997 jobs, down 1.4 percent, while jobs decreased 12.6 percent in Warwick, with the fifth-ranked city representing 4,859 of Rhode Island's industrial jobs.