Every year, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revises its numbers for states’ employment statistics. Those results will be released tomorrow, but Rhode Island’s Department of Labor and Training (DLT) typically releases a limited press release the day before. As of this writing, the DLT’s Web site does not include the press release that went out to journalists and other interested subscribers.
In a word, the results are not good. The BLS revised data back to 2014, and the DLT only released round numbers back to December 2017, but in the name of informing people at Internet speed, here’s a preliminary chart comparing the revision to the originally reported numbers.
Some things to note:
- 5,300 employed Rhode Islanders disappeared.
- The workforce dropped by 4,800.
- That notched unemployment to 4%.
- The better part of all the gains we’d thought we’d made during 2018 evaporated.
For political context, I’ve marked the month that Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s first budget went into effect. Throughout most of 2018, the reported numbers were sufficiently good to open up the possibility that the governor’s policies simply had a lag in their effectiveness. Now, that seems to be less plausible.
From the time she took office, employment in the state has grown at a slower pace than it had been previously — by half. From December 2014 through December 2018, Rhode Island employment increased 0.77% per year. From the time the state hit bottom, around December 2011, through December 2014, the growth rate was 1.42% per year.
Perhaps relying on incorrect numbers, Rhode Islanders didn’t change direction with the last election. One test for the governor — and a sign of her intentions — will be whether she makes some adjustments or doubles down on her top-down, progressive, crony-capitalist approach.