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JOBS & OPPORTUNITY INDEX – RI’s 48th Place Rank not Affected by Job Losses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 26, 2017

Despite Disappointing December Jobs & Employment Losses, Rhode Island Does Not Fall in JOI metric – Remains 3rd Worst in Country
Most 2016 Gains Erased

Providence, RI — Despite December data that showed large losses in both jobs and employment, Rhode Island’s 48th rank remained unchanged on a broader measure of overall employment opportunity. This according to the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, which noted that the massive exit of 2,200 people from the state’s labor force, which illogically lead to an improved unemployment rate, is actually a negative factor that helped keep the Ocean State stuck at third-worst nationally in the Center’s December Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI).

The state’s weak JOI score (which slightly improved in December to 17.9 on a scale of 0-100 from its November score of 17.6) parallel findings from another national study, the Family Prosperity Index (FPI), where Rhode Island ranks 43rd overall in “economics” and 44th and last in New England in “entrepreneurship”, which can be largely attributed to an overly burdensome governmental regulatory and tax regime.

Rhode Island’s poor JOI and FPI rankings are personified by Robert Martinez, a US Navy veteran, who fought a losing battle against oppressive local government regulations and a statewide hostile business climate that has derailed his dream of forging a better quality of life for himself by developing a successful mobile food vendor business.

“Last month’s job losses are extremely concerning. The notion that a falling unemployment rate is indicative of improved job prospects and financial security once again can be shown to be an unreliable metric,” commented Justin Katz, research director for the Center. “Meaningful long-term work and high-paying jobs that are vital to individual dignity and family self-sufficiency are not in high supply in Rhode Island as compared with other states.”

A more detailed analysis of the December data, specifically on employment and jobs, can be found on The Ocean State Current, the Center’s journalism and blog website.

The unexpected job and labor force losses erased most of any gains the state saw in 2016.

Of the three factors that make up JOI, the Ocean State ranks:
  • 39th on the Job Outlook Factor (measuring optimism that adequate work is available): no change from last month
  • 39th on the Freedom Factor (measuring the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): no change from last month
  • 46th Prosperity Factor (measuring the financial motivation of income versus taxes): improved by one spot from last month

The Center’s monthly JOI report is based on state and local tax collection data from a a variety of federal agencies including the U.S. Census and on income data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).
Rhode Island has not gained ground on the national JOI metric, remaining – as it has for years – in the bottom five among all states. JOI is a broader and more accurate measure of employment and well-being than the traditionally cited and highly narrow unemployment rate, which has fluctuated more dramatically in recent years for Rhode Island, but which is not an accurate barometer of economic growth or family prosperity.

Supporting the findings of the JOI metric, Rhode Island also ranks 48th in the Family Prosperity Index, the broadest national measure of family well-being.
For the JOI homepage, click here

For a description of JOI and its three sub-factors, click here.

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