Paid Leave and Rhode Island’s Employment Freeze

A couple of weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal published a letter by a Rhode Islander who stated that “seven of 10 members of my small-business study group are moving their businesses to Massachusetts as a result of a seriously flawed paid-leave bill the governor signed last year.”  Over the weekend, somebody from out of state asked me about the policy, which the Dept. of Labor an Training explains in a fact sheet on its Web site.

Thinking about the matter, the most recent jobs and employment report came to mind, wherein a painful downward revision of past numbers joined with foreboding downward trends for January.  That trend continued in February, and we’ll give further detail on that shortly.

The key point for the moment is that Rhode Island’s economy didn’t do as well as analysts had thought during the latter half of 2018, and we’re now bucking national trends and backsliding.  What if the paid-sick-leave bill is as damaging across the state as the letter writer described in that one small-business group?

The following chart shows the changes in employment and RI-based jobs through 2018 and up to February’s release.

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This cursory presentation is insufficient to prove that progressive policies like mandated paid sick leave have an immediate and detrimental effect on Rhode Islanders’ ability to find work.  The chart is striking enough, though, that we ought to at least pause before layering on more such policies — enacted by people who do not understand economics and who impose their whims on Rhode Islanders without even basic consideration of what their emotion-driven governance might do to people when the fantasy becomes reality.


Of the following two issues related to Rhode Island’s public schools, which one is a greater concern?

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