Employment and labor force are among the first hard data we have of the effects of our state and nation’s response to COVID-19, and they aren’t pretty.
As the federal government and states’ governors decide how much to clamp down on free motion, they should keep in mind the geographic specificity of coronavirus cases.
Checking in with Rhode Island’s employment and jobs numbers just before the annual revision by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we see overall a gradual improvement that lags the region and most of the country.
States, like Rhode Island, that can’t compete for domestic residents seem to be back-filling their populations with new immigrants from other countries.
Despite claims from some that Rhode Island’s economy is finally showing some vitality, perspective on employment across state lines and over time shows enthusiasm to be premature.
Viewed in isolation, Rhode Island’s employment results for June were OK, but trends over time and the national context leave little reason to hope we’re looking at a turnaround.
Some months produce mixed results when it comes to Rhode Island’s employment report; May was not one of those months.
Although the number of jobs based in Rhode Island is up and the official unemployment rate is down, trends in employment and in the Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) bring warnings rather than hopefulness.
Rhode Island’s employment is diverging with other states in its trend and continuing downward in a very worrying way.
With a painful downward revision behind the Ocean State, its employment and jobs numbers began dropping in earnest as the country generally edges toward further employment.
With the BLS’s annual revision, job reports that were already showing signs of weakness turned into a disappearance of employment, jobs, and labor force.
The National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board (TRB) recently met to assess whether changes to truck size and weight (TS & W) should be implemented. The nation’s scholars, engineers and infrastructure “wonks” came away from the conference with a consensual determination that there was not enough data to support changes and that further studies were needed before any revisions were made to either decrease or increase the allowable dimensions and weight on America’s highways and bridges. In fact, the group spent significant time developing a plan for future research on the TS & Weight issue because there are information gaps and inconsistencies in studies.
So why are DOT leaders around the country yelling “fire in the theater” as they pin the trucking industry with the ills of our infrastructure?
When we get past the focus that serves the cause of abortion, we find that it is generally motivated by convenience but has no benefit for the mental health of the woman or her ability to achieve positive goals within the next year.
With the annual data revision looming, Rhode Island ended 2018 apparently at the precipice of a decreasing employment market.
After months of slowing, stagnant growth in employment, November may have seen Rhode Island turning toward the negative.
With three months of discouraging employment results in Rhode Island, the trend is really starting to show.
Underwhelming employment and jobs results for Rhode Island in September represent a second month and may be a warning of an economic slowdown.
The number of Rhode Islanders who say they are employed is still going up, but a one-month job loss and slowing of the rate at which new people enter the job market raise concerns that the boom is already cooling.
The employment trend in Rhode Island remains positive, although the national results are positive, too, and the Ocean State could surely better capitalize on the national economy.
Employment and jobs data continues to be positive for Rhode Island, although the cause appears to be a national wave (and total personal income is actually down).
Rhode Island employment and jobs numbers are looking good, but to the extent that the increase isn’t revised away in the future, it appears to be part of a national trend, not something native to the Ocean State.
Rhode Island’s economic results were improved in April, but because the same numbers improved more in other states, we lost some ground.
Rhode Island’s employment and jobs results were mixed for March, but compared with the country, mixed means falling behind.
A look at differences in graduation rates suggests that we’re not addressing the actual problems that our students face.
The word “pleased” should not have appeared anywhere in the statement of Rhode Island Education Commissioner Ken Wagner upon release of 2017 scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test:
“Nationwide, results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress remained relatively flat, and we saw a similar trend in Rhode Island,” said state Education Commissioner Ken Wagner. “I’m pleased to see us perform better than the national average on fourth grade reading… I hope that our work around early literacy as part of the Third Grade Reading Challenge will speed up that progress going forward.”
That’s like being happy that your child is vomiting a little bit less than half the kids in the sick ward. Never mind that his or her fever is slightly higher, his or her bleeding out of the eyes is slightly worse, and he or she is slightly more delirious than half the children.
According to the data, Rhode Island students don’t break the 40%-proficient mark in either 4th grade or 8th grade in either math or reading (or science or writing, for that matter).
For some quick perspective take a look at the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s States on the Nation’s Report Card tool, which has been updated to include the latest data. Rhode Island’s 4th grade reading scores may be above the average state, but we used to have a lead of three points, and that’s now only two. Worse, the Ocean State’s 8th grade math scores have fallen off a cliff. Since the 2013 test, RI students’ average score has dropped from 284 to 277. That’s 2.5%. In 2013, our children were scoring the same as the average state… no longer.
More broadly, the fashionable distraction to which state bureaucrats lead, which journalists follow, is to lament that “achievement gaps between white students and students of color continue to remain stubbornly high.” This emphasis manages to imply that the real challenge isn’t a broken educational system, but institutional racism, and to lead white parents to think the state’s problems belong to other people, but it disguises the more disturbing conclusion.
Combining 4th and 8th grade scores on reading and math, black students in Rhode Island are actually slightly outperforming their peers in the average state. Hispanic students in Rhode Island do worse than in the average state, but they track closely with black students, which is more typical in our region.
The big drop in Rhode Island is actually among white students, who are the majority. Managing to keep Rhode Island’s minority students relatively flat has actually helped keep up our scores. To the extent that Rhode Island has addressed its “achievement gap,” it has been by failing white students even more.
As I wrote in 2015, the data is strongly suggestive of a change during the governorship of Democrat Lincoln Chafee that looks like a ceiling on Rhode Island’s progress in reforming education. If anything, we can now see that the trends have worsened, rather than improving, under his successor, and the spin should no longer be tolerated.
Rhode Island’s employment numbers for February look okay, until they’re put in a broader context, raising concerns that the Ocean State may miss the better part of the current economic wave.
When the governor proclaims that Rhode Island has the most jobs ever, she means people who work for other people; taking a broader view of people who would say they’re “employed,” the Ocean State still has a ways to go.
Employment and labor force may have edged up in Rhode Island, in January, but the picture is mainly one of stagnation, even as most of the rest of the country has advanced.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual revision was different, this year, in that employment was actually revised up, but that doesn’t change the slowed rate of growth under Governor Raimondo.
With the Bureau of Labor Statistics poised to revise employment numbers, Rhode Island didn’t end the year in a strong place, especially if the revision is downward, as they always seem to be.