Bostom and Jha and Not Being a “Registered Doctor in the State of Rhode Island”

What was lacking above all during the COVID-19 pandemic was accurate, complete information about the disease.  Too many of our public officials, amplified too often by an unquestioning media, spoke only of the deaths, hospitalizations and case count of the disease, giving the strong impression that COVID-19 had a fatality rate worse than the Bubonic […]

TCI Gas Tax: Hurting Families While Accomplishing Little

One doesn’t have to be a climate-change skeptic to wonder why our elected officials would pursue an agreement that hands over some of their authority in order to impose a significant burden on the people they represent for a small benefit to others… all just as Rhode Islanders struggle to regain their feet from the COVID lockdown that the same governor imposed through executive order.

Aging Population No Excuse for RI

Putting aside whether we should care about the size of our labor force, it isn’t true that Rhode Island’s has been disproportionately affected by the aging population.

April 2020 Employment: COVID Flips the Table

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.

Updated 3/23/20 9:30 p.m.. COVID-19 by Northeast County: A NYC Crisis

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.

December 2019 Employment: Has the National Boom Finally Reached RI?

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.

2019 Census: States Change Their Populations

States, like Rhode Island, that can’t compete for domestic residents seem to be back-filling their populations with new immigrants from other countries.

September 2019 Employment: Slipping on the National Wave

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.

June 2019 Employment: A Pause in the Deterioration?

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.

May 2019 Employment: All Downhill (In the Wrong Way)

Some months produce mixed results when it comes to Rhode Island’s employment report; May was not one of those months.

April 2019 Employment: Down in Employment and in JOI

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.

March 2019 Employment: Back to the Bottom 3 for Recovery

Rhode Island’s employment is diverging with other states in its trend and continuing downward in a very worrying way.

February 2019 Employment: Decreases Continue Past the Revision

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.

January 2019 Employment: Pain of a Revision and a Bad Economy

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.

Chris Maxwell: National Academic Board Finds No Data to Support Raimondo & RIDOT’s Claims of Truck Damage to Highways & Bridges

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?

What We’re Really Talking About with Abortion Decisions

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.

December 2018 Employment: Trying Not to Slip on the Ice

With the annual data revision looming, Rhode Island ended 2018 apparently at the precipice of a decreasing employment market.

November 2018 Employment: Stagnation Begins to Turn Down

After months of slowing, stagnant growth in employment, November may have seen Rhode Island turning toward the negative.

October 2018 Employment: Third Month’s a Stagnant Trend

With three months of discouraging employment results in Rhode Island, the trend is really starting to show.

September 2018 Employment: Uh-Oh, Month Two

Underwhelming employment and jobs results for Rhode Island in September represent a second month and may be a warning of an economic slowdown.

August 2018 Employment: Cooling Already?

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.

July 2018 Employment: Strong Economy Lifting RI… at a Discount

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.

June 2018 Employment: Still Positive We’re Working

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).

May 2018 Employment: Annual Phantom Boost or National Wave?

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.

April 2018 Employment: Absolutely Positive, Relatively Slow

Rhode Island’s economic results were improved in April, but because the same numbers improved more in other states, we lost some ground.

March 2018 Employment: Mixed, but Lagging

Rhode Island’s employment and jobs results were mixed for March, but compared with the country, mixed means falling behind.

Underlying Causes of Education Graduation Gaps

A look at differences in graduation rates suggests that we’re not addressing the actual problems that our students face.

NAEP Scores: Another Unacknowledged Crisis in RI

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.

February 2018 Employment: Preparing to Miss the Wave?

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.

The Most People Working for Other People Ever

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.

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