JOI? About that Unemployment Rate, Governor

Governor Gina Raimondo’s approval rating isn’t good and, in fact, is going in the wrong direction due to

a sharp rise in her negative ratings this year, according to a newly released poll.

Asked about this in a couple of different instances by the press, the Governor responded by citing purported achievements of her administration but always including a reference to the state’s dropping unemployment rate – this one courtesy WPRI.

Asked Thursday how she reacted to seeing her approval rating at 41%, Raimondo replied: “I was pleased.”

“You know, it’s early in my term,” she continued. “We’ve been on for a year. We’ve had a lot of momentum. Our unemployment rate dropped.”

Actually, the unemployment rate is an inadequate reflection of the measure of employment as, among other things, it fails to distinguish between part and full time employment and actually counts a declining labor force participation rate as a good thing.

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity has developed a more comprehensive snapshot, called JOI (Jobs & Opportunity Index), of the larger state economic picture, as opposed to the narrow snapshot of the monthly unemployment rate. From the JOI webpage:

JOI is a national index of states that incorporates three major factors, comprised of over a dozen variables derived from government reported data:

1) A proper measure of employment as it relates to labor force,
2) A measure of job/employment levels as compared with public assistance rolls, and;
3) A measure of personal income as compared with government tax receipts collected”

By this measure, Rhode Island ranks forty eighth nationally – not at all a ranking that any state official should or could brag about.

Be sure to keep an eye out for Rhode Island’s JOI ranking as the Center will be updating this important new measure every month when the state’s unemployment rate is released.

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