Rhode Island’s employment picture remains largely stagnant, although the slipping labor force may be a warning sign of changes to come.
In September, whatever boost Rhode Island was seeing in employment cooled and jobs evaporated; meanwhile, Rhode Islanders’ income fell in the second quarter, even as taxes increased.
As usual this time of year, the story of Rhode Island’s employment picture depends greatly on whether one expects a large downward revision. For the moment, the employment picture looks brighter than it’s been, although not by much.
For the first time in a while, Rhode Island’s employment picture looks to be on the upswing, although similar results in prior years have tended to be revised away.
When it comes to Rhode Island employment, we’ve reached the point that not losing ground is the good news.
With Rhode Island’s employment on the downside of stagnation, jobs disappearing, and other states’ pulling away, it’s only a matter of time until it’s absolutely impossible for politicians to find positive spin.
Whatever politicians may say, Rhode Island’s employment situation is stuck, which means losing ground against its Southern New England neighbors and the country as a whole.
Rhode Island’s employment results were generally positive, for March, but the context of other states and of long-term trends advises caution before proclaiming a break of the Ocean State’s stagnation fever.
RI’s February employment data is, at best, stagnant, but compared with its neighbors and other states around the country, the Ocean State is losing considerable ground.
Unlike recent years, Rhode Island’s employment numbers didn’t kick off 2016 with a boom (later to be revised down); combined with downward revisions and stagnant results, Rhode Islanders should be concerned.
With the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual revision of employment data, Rhode Island lost over 4,000 employed residents and appears to have stalled at the beginning of last summer.
Through the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, I put out a one-page report today, time to coincide with National School Choice Week. Using data available through the Center’s interactive application to review state-level results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests, the one-pager points out something that I’ve noted before: Rhode Island actually gained ground through much of the last decade, particularly among disadvantaged students, but hit a hard ceiling when reforms were halted. Here’s one of the charts from the report with an added political dimension that’s quite striking:
As the General Assembly promises to knock around charter schools this session (with some reforms that I actually break from school choice allies in supporting), Rhode Islanders should rouse themselves at least a little bit to insist that the special interests who control our state — in particular, public education — must be made to step aside in the interest of real, secure, long-term school choice that stops funding government-branded schools and starts funding education. In other words, we need real school choice in the Ocean State.
As we approach a likely downward revision in employment numbers for Rhode Island, late 2015 has already lost a substantial amount of the gains made in the early and middle parts of the year.
Rhode Island’s final employment report for the year continues the trend that has come to define it: a lower unemployment rate resulting from bigger losses in labor force than employment.
Although politicians are looking to the unemployment rate to paint sunny pictures of RI’s economy, in August, the gap between the jobs that the RI economy had created since the recession and the number of Rhode Islanders added to food stamps grew and still led New England.
Once again, the drop in RI’s unemployment rate is deceptive, resulting from a bigger drop in people actively looking for work than the drop in employment; at least RI had the rest of New England for company in October.
September marked the month that Rhode Island employment stopped its unabated month-to-month growth in 2015, but a downward revision of the whole year should still be expected in January.
Since the recession began, Rhode Island has added about one-tenth of its population to the food-stamp rolls, and with jobs recovering slowly, the safety net remains full.
Rhode Island’s job market continues to explode… at least according to one Bureau of Labor Statistics measure. If true, that means the Ocean State is the one saving grace of the Southern New England economy.
Employment data for June shows Rhode Island somehow leading the country in employment growth while actually losing jobs based in the state.
Employment and labor force numbers for Rhode Island are still booming, but it remains difficult to believe they won’t be revised significantly, meaning that celebration of a low unemployment rate would be premature.
Growth in employment numbers has taken off, in Rhode Island, but history and data on RI-based jobs suggests that the numbers have broken free of reality’s gravity.
In 2009, US District Court Judge William E. Smith decided a lawsuit (Cohen v. Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority) about whether non-Rhode Island residents could be charged a substantially larger toll ($4.00) for using the Newport Bridge than residents were charged ($0.83).
Judge Smith centered the substance of his ruling on a three-part test from a 1994 Supreme Court case, Northwest Airlines, Inc. v. County of Kent, Mich…
“A levy is reasonable under [Evansville-Vanderburgh Airport Auth. Dist. v. Delta Airlines, Inc.] if it (1) is based on some fair approximation of use of the facilities, (2) is not excessive in relation to the benefits conferred, and (3) does not discriminate against interstate commerce.”
In arguing that the Newport toll structure violated the third part of the test, the plaintiff cited Oregon Waste Systems v. Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, where the Supreme Court in 1993 had ruled…
“We have held that the first step in analyzing any law subject to judicial scrutiny under the negative Commerce Clause is to determine whether it “regulates evenhandedly with only ‘incidental’ effects on interstate commerce, or discriminates against interstate commerce”….As we use the term here, “discrimination” simply means differential treatment of in-state and out-of-state economic interests that benefits the former and burdens the latter. If a restriction on commerce is discriminatory, it is virtually per se invalid.”
However, Judge Smith upheld the Newport toll structure, in part, because he found that the plaintiff had assumed a connection between a residency requirement and interstate commerce which was left unproven…
In this case Plaintiff has failed to identify a specific in-state commercial interest that is favored by the Newport Bridge toll discount at the expense of particular out-of-state competitors, so it cannot demonstrate that the discount discriminates against interstate commerce.
Suffice it to say that in the case of a substantial in-state versus out-of-state toll differential on commercial vehicles, in-state commercial interests favored at the expense of particular out-of-state competitors will be readily identifiable, and the test cited in Oregon Waste Systems that looks unfavorably on differential treatment will be applied.
The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s new school choice economic model projects statewide savings and can help educate the public.
Just like last year, March employment data is showing huge improvement in Rhode Island. Just like last year, it’s likely to be revised downward, and other factors suggest a continuing decline.
February’s employment data begins to raise the question of whether Rhode Island will ever actually grow its labor force. The decreasing unemployment rate may be an indication that people are rapidly giving up on the Ocean State.
The unemployment rate in Rhode Island disguises disturbing trends in Rhode Island’s employment condition.
Revisions to Rhode Island’s employment data didn’t affect the top-line unemployment rate, but employment decreased, and the Ocean State’s standing relative to other states generally worsened.
Rhode Island’s unemployment rate may have “improved” below the 7% milestone, but the underlying data continues to give cause for alarm.
Data collected by the College Board reinforces survey results showing that Rhode Islanders want alternatives to the state’s languishing public schools.