The Jobs & Opportunity Index provides state lawmakers with a more comprehensive view of the larger state economic picture.

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), February 2017: Little Change as RI Tax Revenue Slips Slightly

The annual revisions of the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) usually mean that the data for February follows closely on that for January, leaving little change in the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) report. This year, updated data for SNAP and state and local taxes is also available, although the changes were so minimal as to cause not change for the Ocean State.

Five of the 13 datapoints used for the index have been newly updated. Employment was up a significant 2,415 from the previously recorded number, while labor force rose 1,269, although it isn’t unusual for the state to see a surge in these numbers early in the year, with the revision erasing the gains a year later. RI-based jobs increased by 2,500. (Note that these are calculated with pre-revision data for the prior month.) Meanwhile, SNAP enrollment decreased slightly, by 222. State and local taxes, per the U.S. Census, were down $5.2 million, which are a positive in the index, but which may indicate that the extra tax revenue on which lawmakers are depending for tax reforms may not materialize.

The first chart shows Rhode Island still in the last position in New England, at 48th in the country. The only New England state to see movement in its rank was Connecticut, which stepped forward one slot to 33rd, now two ahead of Massachusetts at 34th. New Hampshire continued in the 1st spot, nationally, while Maine held steady at 18th. Vermont’s 21st placement was also unchanged.

NE-JOIrace-0217

The second chart shows the gap between Rhode Island and New England and the United States on JOI. The Ocean State made up a little ground against both averages.

RINEUS-JOI-2005-0217 RINEUS-unemployment-2005-0217

Rhode Island also made up ground on the gaps for unemployment rate (third chart). Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (measuring optimism that adequate work is available): RI held at 35th.
  • Freedom Factor (measuring the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI held at 41st.
  • Prosperity Factor (measuring the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI held at 46th.
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