Happy New Year! In 2018, Rhode Islanders want to achieve their hopes and dreams of better life for their families. In order for the Ocean State to prosper, we need an economic climate that rewards hard work, encourages small-business growth, and creates quality jobs. In this regard, the traditionally cited monthly unemployment rate is often used by state lawmakers as a benchmark to evaluate the results of their policy initiatives. However, this rate represents only a very narrow look at the employment health of a state and can often paint an incomplete, or even inaccurate, snapshot of the broader economic picture. Our Center has created the Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) as a broader and deeper measure of economic well-being to address this problem, and help lawmakers craft better policy.
For November 2017, with two states trending downward, Rhode Island managed to move away from last place on our Center’s index in November. The Ocean State has moved from 49th to 47th place. Employment was down again, 519 from the previously recorded number, while labor force edged up 226. Owing to a significant upward revision of October’s numbers, RI-based jobs increased 1,900. Personal income, although still down from the first quarter, increased an annualized $225 million (about 0.5%), while state and local taxes increased by $20 million (about 0.6%). On the welfare side, Medicaid increased by 180 enrollees, while SNAP (food stamps) dropped again, by 628.
The chart above shows the Ocean State still in the last position in New England, 47th in the country. New England leader New Hampshire slipped to 2nd for the first time in a long time, losing out to Wyoming. Vermont and Maine both fell to 18th and 20th place. Next door, Massachusetts remained at 31st, but Connecticut fell into the bottom ten and is 41st place in the country now.
For an index to be an accurate representation of the economy of the Ocean State, it must take into account the lived experience of the families who make their homes and work here. The narrow unemployment rate does not achieve this, and for comparisons across time and across states additional benchmarks are necessary. While the progressives agenda values government-centric, taxpayer-funded dependency… our Center believes in the REAL value of hard work and the free-enterprise system. I encourage you to read more about the November report by clicking here now and sharing the post on social media.