An Economy Headed in the Wrong Direction


For his weekend column, Ted Nesi draws attention to another indicator that what we’ve been saying around here for years is true — namely, that Rhode Island’s economy is headed in the wrong direction, whatever a misleading unemployment rate might suggest:

Back in November 2014, the conference projected Rhode Islanders’ personal income would total $59.8 billion this year and $61.8 billion next year. Fast-forward to last month, and the conference’s revised income forecast is far more modest: only $54.4 billion this year and $56.3 billion next year. Put another way, Rhode Islanders’ personal income in 2018 is now expected to be nearly 10% lower than forecast three years ago. That’s billions of dollars less in Rhode Islanders’ pockets than officials had thought would be there. It’s also a major contrast with the forecasts for payrolls (only about 1% lower now than was expected three years ago) or the unemployment rate (roughly a percentage point better now than was expected three years ago).

With state government insisting on keeping both its regulatory and tax thumbs on Rhode Island’s economy, the state is not a good place in which to really invest effort to succeed.  That’s why the productive class has been leaving, taking its motivation and financial resources with it.

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Unfortunately, the incentives in this state are such that people in power will not change what needs to be changed, which means that voters must change them.  The remaining question is whether we’re so far down the spiral that those whose incentive is to work to keep their government-derived advantages alive as long as possible can win every time, almost without trying.