Jump in RI TANF welfare payments led to slip from 41st to 42nd in the Freedom Factor of Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) in March 2017.

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), March 2017: Cash Welfare & Job Losses Overwhelm Employment

A big jump in Rhode Island recipients of TANF welfare payments led the Ocean State to slip from 41st to 42nd in the Freedom Factor of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), although the state’s overall rank remained the same.

Seven of the 13 datapoints used for the index have been newly updated. Employment was up a significant 2,871 from the previously recorded number, while labor force rose 1,836. (A surge in these numbers that is later revised away has become an annual pattern.) On the other hand, RI-based jobs decreased by 600. (Note that these are calculated with pre-revision data for the prior month.) Meanwhile, SNAP enrollment decreased by 2,809, but Medicaid enrollment increased 5,478 and TANF (cash assistance) enrollment increased a whopping 3,294 (37.0%) from the previously recorded number from September. This month, new personal income data was also released, showing an increase of $660 million (1.5%).

The first chart shows Rhode Island still in the last position in New England, at 48th in the country. Elsewhere in New England, Maine slipped a rank, to 19th, while Vermont held (once again) at 21st. Connecticut and Massachusetts each moved two spots in opposite directions, thus switching spots. Massachusetts now leads, at 33rd, and Connecticut takes second-to-last in New England, at 35th nationally.

Jobs & Opportunity Scores March 2017 New England Economic Race

The second chart shows the gap between Rhode Island and New England and the United States on JOI. The Ocean State lost ground against both averages. In keeping with our skepticism of the official unemployment rate, however, Rhode Island made up some ground on the gaps for unemployment rate (third chart).

Jobs & Opportunity Index Rhode Island March 2017

Unemployment Rate Rhode Island March 2017

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 fell one spot to 42nd.
  • Prosperity Factor (measuring the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI held at 46th.

Click Here For The Press Release.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 3, 2017

Surge in Public Assistance Rolls Holds Back Ocean State
Despite its technical failures, is UHIP succeeding in driving up dependency?

Providence, RI — Despite the boasts by political leaders about the state’s improved unemployment rate, on a broader national measure on employment and prosperity, Rhode Island remains mired in 48th place nationally and last in New England. This according to the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, which this week published itsMarch Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI).

A dramatic jump in the last quarter of 2016 in the number of people enrolled in TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) and Medicaid was the driving factor to keeping the Ocean State’s rating so low.

“We are all too aware of the technical failures of UHIP in denying people their benefits, yet it may be succeeding in another of its goals,” suggested Justin Katz, research director for the Center. “Four years ago we dubbed UHIP the ‘dependency portal’ and, as predicted, in the very first quarter the system went operational, we saw a major spike in enrollment in two major public welfare services.”

JOI takes a broader look at employment and prosperity than does the narrowly defined unemployment rate. JOI makes it clear that meaningful long-term work and high-paying jobs, which 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 March data by Katz, specifically on welfare and work, can be found on The Ocean State Current, the Center’s journalism and blog website.

With Rhode Island’s weak national ranking remaining unchanged, findings from another national study, the Family Prosperity Index (FPI), where Rhode Island ranked 43rd overall in “economics” and 44th and last in New England in “entrepreneurship,” tend to support JOI’s stagnant rankings as opposed to the false-optimism premised on the unemployment rate.

Of the three factors that make up the January JOI, the Ocean State ranks:
  • 35th on the Job Outlook Factor (measuring optimism that adequate work is available): No change from last month
  • 42nd on the Freedom Factor (measuring the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI fell one spot from last month
  • 46th Prosperity Factor (measuring the financial motivation of income versus taxes): No change from last month

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.

The Center’s monthly JOI report is based on state and local tax collection data from 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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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.

Trump Was Right. Unemployment Rate Masks RI’s Deteriorating Employment Market. Real Unemployment Rate 12.4%?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 15, 2017

Unemployment Rate Would be 12.4% if Labor Force Matched Nation

Inadequacy of Unemployment Rate Clouding Political Discourse
Deteriorating Labor Force Produces Positive Rate?

Providence, RI — Donald Trump may have been correct in his skepticism of apparently positive national unemployment rate news during the 2016 Presidential Campaign. As the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has long argued, and once again backed by the latest employment data, negative declines in the state’s labor force have led to positive improvements in Rhode Island’s official unemployment rate. Yet, a broader look employment actually shows that the Ocean State remains mired as the third-worst state nationally on the Center’s January Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI).

Labor Force Change RIDespite boasts of a strengthening state economy based on its January unemployment rate of 4.7%, a closer look at the data reveals a major underlying problem that is often overlooked: Since 2007 U.S. employment and labor force participation has risen by 4-5%, while Rhode Island saw an opposite decrease by 4-5% in these same categories over the same time period.

“It is not a positive when our state’s decreased unemployment rate is almost entirely due to policies that are driving our labor force out of state,” warned Justin Katz, research director for the Center. “If our state’s labor force instead had increased at the same rate as the nation, our unemployment rate would be a whopping 12.4%.”

JOI takes a broader look at employment and prosperity than does the narrowly-defined unemployment rate. JOI makes it clear that meaningful long-term work and high-paying jobs, which 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 January data by Katz, specifically on employment and jobs, can be found on The Ocean State Current, the Center’s journalism and blog website.

Despite its weak national ranking remaining unchanged, the state’s raw JOI score improved slightly in January to 19.0 on a scale of 0-100 from its December score of 17.9. Findings from another national study, the Family Prosperity Index (FPI), where Rhode Island ranked 43rd overall in “economics” and 44th and last in New England in “entrepreneurship”, tend support JOI’s stagnant rankings as opposed to the unemployment rate rank.

Of the three factors that make up the January JOI, the Ocean State ranks:

  • 35th on the Job Outlook Factor (measuring optimism that adequate work is available): UP four slots from last month’s rankings
  • 41st on the Freedom Factor (measuring the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): DOWN two slots from last month
  • 46th Prosperity Factor (measuring the financial motivation of income versus taxes): NO CHANGE from last month

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.

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 2016 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.

The first Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) January 2017 finds the Ocean State slipping on the Freedom Factor, measuring welfare dependency vs. employment.

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), January 2017: Rhode Islanders Less Free from Government Dependency

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.

NE-JOIrace-0117

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).

RINEUS-JOI-2005-0117 RINEUS-unemployment-2005-0117

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.

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.

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), December 2016: RI Holds Steady Despite Jobs Hit

The preliminary yearend Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) report from the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity shows the Ocean State holding on to 48th place in the country despite a hit to its jobs and employment numbers. In part, this result derived from improved income numbers, which lag by a quarter and may moderate when the full year is included in a final result for 2016.

Eight of the 13 datapoints used for the index have been newly updated. Employment was down 803 from the previously recorded number, while labor force fell 2,199 and RI-based jobs slipped by 600. (Note that these are calculated with pre-revision data for the prior month.) Medicaid enrollment numbers, now available through November, increased by 5,157, perhaps resulting from UHIP and HealthSource RI’s open enrollment period. Within the index that increase was offset by a 2,608 reduction in SNAP enrollment and a 199 reduction in TANF. (Note that these results predate UHIP, which may drive them up when fully functional.) Meanwhile, annualized state and local tax collections were up by $24 million, but personal income was up $802 million.

The first chart below shows Rhode Island still in the last position in New England. As the only two New England states to move in the rankings, Maine and Connecticut managed to increase their distance from Vermont and Massachusetts, respectively. New Hampshire remained 1st in the nation, with Maine a distant second, at 19th, now two places ahead of Vermont, at 21st. Connecticut moved up two to 32nd, outpacing Massachusetts, at 35th.

NE-JOIrace-1216

The second chart shows the gap between Rhode Island and New England and the United States on JOI. The Ocean State lost ground against both averages. Rhode Island also lost ground with growing gaps on the unemployment rate (third chart).

RINEUS-JOI-2005-1216

RINEUS-unemployment-2005-1216

Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (measuring optimism that adequate work is available): RI remained at 39th.
  • 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 moved up one to 46th.

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), November 2016: A Quiet Entry to the Holiday Season

The final Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) report from the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity to be released in 2016 brings little change, leaving until next year information about how factors such as the problematic Unified Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP) will affect Rhode Island’s position nationally.

Of the 13 datapoints used for the index, only five were newly updated for the November report. Employment was down 365 from the previously recorded number, while labor force fell a substantial 1,758, although RI-based jobs increased by 300. (Note that these are calculated with pre-revision data for the prior month.) Medicaid enrollment decreased by 1,369 from August to September and SNAP by 667. The enrollment numbers for Rhode Island’s welfare programs will be a key variable to watch as 2016 data is completed early in the next year. Assuming UHIP doesn’t undermine data reporting to the federal government, the question will be whether increased information finds more current enrollees ineligible than connecting all of the program brings more people to benefits.

The first chart shows Rhode Island locked in the last position in New England on JOI. Although New England experienced a mix of improved and declining JOI scores, no states changed position in the national ranking. New Hampshire remained 1st in the nation, with Maine a distant second, at 20th. Vermont was right behind, at 21st. Connecticut narrowly held its 34th position, with Massachusetts next, at 35th.

ne-joirace-1116

The second chart shows the gap between Rhode Island and New England as well as the United States, with the Ocean State’s lag worsening slightly in both cases. Rhode Island kept pace with New England for the gap on the unemployment rate but lost ground against the national average (third chart).

rineus-joi-2005-1116 rineus-unemployment-2005-1116

Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (measuring optimism that adequate work is available): RI remained at 39th.
  • 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 remained at 47th.

New: JOBS & OPPORTUNITY INDEX – RI’s Score Drops; Still Mired in 48th Place

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 21, 2016

Rhode Island loses ground, based on lag in long-term employment security

Providence, RI — Despite October data that showed an end to a two month job-loss skid and a slight improvement in its unemployment rate, Rhode Island actually lost ground and is still mired in 48th place by a broader measurement of overall employment opportunity. This according to the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity which noted today that relative long-term unemployment security concerns dropped the state’s total score, keeping the Ocean State stuck with the 48th rank nationally in the Center’s October Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI).

The state’s weak JOI score (which dropped in October to 17.5 on a scale of 0-100 from its September score of 17.9) parallel findings from another national study, the Family Prosperity Index (FPI), where it ranks 43rd overall in “economics” and 44th and last in New England in the sub-category of “entrepreneurship”, which can be largely attributed to an overly-burdensome governmental regulatory 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.

“The notion that a falling unemployment rate is indicative of improved job prospects and financial security is false,” 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 October data can be found on The Ocean State Current, the Center’s journalism and blog website.

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): a drop of 3 spots from last month.
  • 39th on the Freedom Factor (measuring the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): no change from last month
  • 47th Prosperity Factor (measuring the financial motivation of income versus taxes): no change 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.