Long-time readers know of my skepticism about employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Every year since I’ve been keeping an eye on the annual revisions of the prior year’s data, thousands of Rhode Islanders claiming to have been employed simply disappear, and months of rapid growth that had been reported are smoothed away.
Well, this year’s revision was unique in that employment was actually revised upwards by 803 workers. The smoothing still happened, though. The following chart shows Rhode Island’s employment and labor force as they have been revised (the thicker red and blue lines) versus how they were originally reported during the year (the thinner orange and purple lines).
One effect of the smoothing process was a slight improvement of the picture for Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo. Previously, employment growth since her first budget went into effect had been almost entirely flat. Now the story involves some growth. Slow growth, but some growth.
The slowed rate of employment growth, however, merits further exploration. As the employment line makes obvious, employment had been increasing at about twice the monthly rate prior to Raimondo’s swearing in. The following chart shows how employment would have grown under Governor Raimondo if she had maintained monthly increases at the same rate that Rhode Island experienced in the year before she took office, as well as if her 35 months in office had maintained the rate of the 35 months before she arrived.
If employment had increased as much during Raimondo’s term so far as it did in the same number of months beforehand, 9,906 more Rhode Islanders would be working. If she had maintained employment at the same rate as the year before she took office, that number would be 21,069 more working Rhode Islanders, and the Ocean State would now have more people employed than ever before.