Between Massachusetts and Connecticut, Southern New England would have lost over a seasonally adjusted 23,000 employed residents, in July, if it hadn’t been for the 2,086 that Rhode Island added. How the Ocean State managed, for the second month in a row, to buck its neighbors’ dramatic trend remains a mystery, but thus far it appears to be a 2015 miracle (at least until the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS] revises the numbers down next January).
To put the Ocean State’s job boom in context, the following chart shows that Massachusetts and Connecticut — which most people would consider to have the stronger economies — appear to have hit a wall for both employment and the size of the labor force, while Rhode Island continues to grow.
Not surprisingly, Rhode Island’s unusual position at the lead of the regional economy (for which nobody has yet provided an explanation… assuming the trend is real and not just a statistical error) has it moving up the ranks of states when it comes to distance from peak employment. This current miracle year has brought us out of our habitual position as an outlier with a terrible recovery and at least into the lower tier of states.
Readers inferring a bit of sarcasm and cynicism above are observant. One wrinkle to my skepticism, for July, is that the state did add 3,300 Rhode Island-based jobs. That number — although adjusted month to month with statistical formulas — tends to be a little more accurate, at least, because the statistical formulas are more directly based in an actual source of data. However, it’s notable that the 300-job loss reported for June has been revised to a 1,000-job loss, so a good portion of the uptick came from that revision, and recent trends suggest July will experience a downward revision next month, too.
The contrast of the employment line (the higher one) and the jobs line (the lower one) is instructive, as one watches the trends. At best, Rhode Island remains in a state of slow growth, which isn’t good enough, as most people actually experiencing the state’s job market would confirm.