Whatever else Rhode Island’s employment results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) have been, they haven’t been erratic. After three months of slowing and stagnating employment, the November results show decreases. Employment was down 280 people from the prior month. The labor force was down 247. Jobs based in the state were down 900.
In the following chart, the red line shows the labor force (people working or looking for work) and the blue line shows employment since the start of the Great Recession.
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The monthly chart showing the unemployment rate (blue line) compared with what it would have been had Rhode Islanders kept looking for work since the downturn foreshadowed the stagnation beginning over the summer. Even though employment had stagnated or even decreased a little, the number of people looking for work had begun decreasing. This resulted in the appearance of an “improving” unemployment rate. That illusion is over.
The contrast with the Ocean State’s neighbors makes matters look worse. Both Massachusetts and Connecticut, at this point, are experiencing substantial increases in employment — a trend that eludes Rhode Island.
This leaves Rhode Island in the bottom 7 states for recovering employment lost back in the late ’00s, and one of only 10 that have still not reached peak employment from that time. Meanwhile, Massachusetts is one of the top 6 states for exceeding that prior peak.
Bringing into the picture jobs based in the state shows essentially no improvement since May (the lighter area in the following chart). This follows the slower growth that Rhode Island has seen since Governor Gina Raimondo’s first election, compared with its already-slow growth before then.
The last chart for this monthly report shows New England states’ positions on the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI). JOI takes into account 12 data points, including these employment and jobs numbers as well as income, taxes, and welfare, and it finds Rhode Island to be 47th in the country.
Of the following two issues related to Rhode Island’s public schools, which one is a greater concern?