July 2018 Employment: Strong Economy Lifting RI… at a Discount

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National employment growth continues to be strong, and Rhode Island is benefiting from that tide.  The increase in the number of Rhode Islanders who say that they are employed, from June to July, was 1,791, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  The labor force grew 1,067, and the two numbers together give the Ocean State an improved unemployment rate of 4.2%.

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Over the years, these monthly reports have also given the unemployment rate imagining that so many Rhode Islanders hadn’t stopped looking for work after the Great Recession.  Because that number is constant, employment increases have larger effects on the unemployment rate, and this month, the unemployment rate would have dropped from 6.6% to 6.3%.

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The first hint that this good news could be better comes with a comparison with Massachusetts.  Although Rhode Island’s growth has been better than Connecticut’s (which is still higher when compared to the days before the recession), Massachusetts employment growth is literally off the charts… this chart, anyway:

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This contrast is deepened when we acknowledge that Rhode Island is still toward the back of the pack, among just a dozen states that have not yet regained all of their lost employment.

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To return to a positive view, though, it’s worth noting that if the number of new jobs based in Rhode Island continues to increase at its current rate, we could return to, or even exceed, the growth rate we were experiencing before the start of 2016.

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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.

All of the new data, this month, came from the BLS (all positive), except for the number of people enrolled in Medicaid, which presented a slightly negative picture.

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