Rhode Island at the DNC: Illustration of a Potential Future

In a Providence Journal Political Scene article about his speech to the Democrat National Convention, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee had this to say about his experience in office:

Now I’m in a governor’s chair, trying to get the economy going, and it’s not, click, turn a switch. This is hard work and it takes time … and the policies that we inherited [make it harder].

One would think, from this statement, that Rhode Island’s economy is edging its way back from the brink, but it is not — certainly not in terms of employment. A new study of the numbers from the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity shows that, not only is Rhode Island second worst nationally in unemployment, and not only is it the second farthest from its prerecession peak employment, but it leads the country in continuing to lose employment.

United States Employment Growth by State, February 2010 to July 2012

More galling is that, far from working hard, the state’s political leaders are doing nothing notable to turn things around.  Indeed, last December, the governor excused himself by asserting that “we’re traditionally first into a recession and last out.” Other office holders have said the same.

Rhode Islanders should have no illusion about the dire circumstances into which their leadership has plunged them.  And Americans watching the speeches at this week’s convention should consider the words of our state’s chief executive in the context of our economic performance.

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