February 2019 Employment: Decreases Continue Past the Revision

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Rhode Island’s employment and jobs data for February proved the big downward revision from the month before to be just a start, because the numbers kept slipping.  The mainstream headlines about the latest statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) may be that the unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percent at 3.9%, but that gives the wrong idea.

As the following chart shows, employment (the blue line) actually dropped by 480, as did the state’s labor force (red line), which is the number of people either employed or looking for work, by 861.

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Holding the labor force steady better tells the tale.  If the number of people looking for work hadn’t consistently dropped over the past decade, the unemployment rate would have increased one tenth of a percent, to 7.2%.

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Unfortunately, Rhode Island doesn’t even have the benefit of sympathy with its neighbors, inasmuch as Massachusetts experienced increases, and Connecticut at least held its ground.

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If these trends continue for much longer, Rhode Island will also lose company among states that have not yet regained all of their lost employment.  Of the just 11 states still in that condition, four are on the verge of joining the majority of states above the 100% line.

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Looking at jobs based in the state doesn’t paint any prettier of a picture.  In this case, the line (the lighter area in the following chart) drops by 600 jobs.

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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.

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