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Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), September 2016: Rhode Island Slips on Income

Last month’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) report from the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity noted that Rhode Island slipped back into 48th place in the nation because total taxes collected in the state increased. This month, Rhode Island remains 48th because Rhode Islanders’ personal income dropped, leaving us to pay more taxes with less income.

Of the 13 datapoints used for the index, six are updated for the September report. Employment was up 516 from the previously recorded number, labor force up 675, and RI-based jobs down 600. (Note that these are calculated with pre-revision data for the prior month.) Medicaid enrollment increased by 2,338, while SNAP decreased by 451. Personal income, including wages and various forms of investment income, dropped an annualized $589 million in the second quarter (resulting from a downward revision of first quarter data by the Bureau of Economic Analysis). All in all, the increases were smaller and the decreases larger than the month before.

As reflected in the first chart below, Rhode Island remains the last state in New England on JOI. Moreover, it was the only state in the region to experience a decrease in its JOI score. Although the other five states improved their scores, Vermont was the only one to change rankings from a national perspective (from 44th to 41st). New Hampshire remained 1st in the nation, and Maine stayed at 20th. Connecticut held 33rd in the country, with Massachusetts still close behind, at 35th.

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The second chart at right shows the gap between Rhode Island and New England as well as the United States, which expanded once again, this month. By contrast, Rhode Island’s gap shrunk on the unemployment rate (third chart), although minimally.

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Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (measuring optimism that adequate work is available): RI remained stuck in 36th place.
  • Freedom Factor (measuring the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI remained at 39th.
  • Prosperity Factor (measuring the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI dropped one place, behind Ohio, to 45th.
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