The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s first Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) report for 2017 finds the Ocean State slipping on the Freedom Factor, measuring welfare dependency versus employment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revised employment down for Rhode Island, reducing the state’s employment health, and more Rhode Islanders slipped into dependence on Medicaid and SNAP (food stamps).
Eight of the 13 datapoints used for the index have been newly updated. Employment was down 653 from the previously recorded number, while labor force fell 2,358. On the positive side, RI-based jobs increased by 600. (Note that these are calculated with pre-revision data for the prior month.) Perhaps beginning to show the UHIP-enabled expansion of welfare programs, Medicaid enrollment numbers increased by 3,455, and SNAP enrollment increased by 5,187. Quarterly data for additional employment measures were also released, with 1,400 fewer people long-term unemployed and 300 fewer part-time against their will; marginally attached workers remained exactly the same.
The first chart shows Rhode Island still in the last position in New England, at 48th in the country. Once again, the only two New England states to move in the rankings were Maine (now 18th) and Connecticut, although the latter changed direction, lost two spaces, and, at 34th, is now just one space ahead of Masaschusetts, at 35th. New Hampshire remained 1st in the nation, and Vermont held at 21st.
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. 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 moved up four spots to 35th.
- Freedom Factor (measuring the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI fell two to 41st.
- Prosperity Factor (measuring the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI held at 46th.