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Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Future of 500 Rhode Island Jobs Unknown

The number of residents unable to find a Rhode Island job rose again during June. According to the most recent statistics, 7.5 percent of the population is now unable to find work. This is the highest the figure has been in almost 15 years. With the national average being significantly lower at 5.5 percent, Rhode Island now has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

A newly released state Department of Labor and Training survey showed that over 42,000 residents are without a job but looking for employment. So far this year, Rhode Island has lost approximately 8,600 jobs. The industries which have suffered the most include manufacturing, professional and business services and the financial sector.

The state could potentially lose 500 more jobs in the near future due to the U.S. Navy deciding against building a new generation of destroyers. These ships were to have been computers designed by subcontractor Raytheon Co, which may see the need to layoff a number of different workers now that Navy officials have changed their plans.

Recently Navy Secretary Donald Winter made it known to members of Congress that the Navy will only be purchasing two Zumwalt-class destroyers. Originally, these high-tech stealth ships were planned to replace the smaller Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. Price has likely played a huge part in this decision, as Zumwalts have been estimated to cost as much as twice the $1.3 billion Arleigh Burkes.

Subcontractor Raytheon will still be responsible for designing, building and installing the electronic systems on both of these vessels. These computers will be responsible for everything from commanding the launch of missiles to sending e-mails, says company spokesperson Guy T. Shields. He had no estimate on the exact number of individuals at Raytheon’s Rhode Island facility are actually working on the project.

At this point, the company is still unsure of how the Navy’s recent announcement will effect the jobs of those who were to be assigned on the originally larger scale project. “We don’t know because the Navy hasn’t talked to us,” Shields said.


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