Rhode Island Employment Snapshot, October 2013: “Recovery” Undone

After a month of not being reported because of the government shutdown, Rhode Island’s unemployment rate moved up to 9.2% in October. According to the statistics published by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 634 fewer Rhode Islanders reported being employed than did the month before (1,881 fewer than the last report, of August data), and 657 fewer people reported that they’re either working or looking for work (1,462 fewer than August).

The total employment is now down below where it was in June 2012.

As can be seen in the first chart, below, Rhode Island’s labor force (now hovering at its summer 2002 level) is only 1,874 people higher than the number of people working just before the recession started.  Rhode Island remains on track for the end of the year to have a total labor force that is lower than would be the case if all of the people who were unemployed in January 2007 completely dropped out of the labor force.

If the current employment existed with the same-sized labor force as at the beginning of the chart, the unemployment rate would be 13.2%.

The second chart shows that the Ocean State remains well behind Massachusetts and Connecticut.  A comparison of this chart from month to month would show Rhode Island’s relative position worsening.



Hundreds of Thousands in U.S. Taxpayer Money per Paid HealthSource RI Customer

According to the Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight, under the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the federal government has given $134.7 million in grants aimed, at least in part, at getting Rhode Island’s Affordable Care Act health benefits exchange, HealthSource RI, up and running.  Of that, $99.1 million went directly to the Rhode Island government.

With HealthSource RI having now released detailed results for its first month of operation, it’s possible to begin assessing a cost per enrollment.  As the following chart shows, thus far, U.S. taxpayers have spent $371,268 directly to set up the site for each of the 267 people who’ve officially enrolled.


Adding in the 925 Rhode Islanders who have completed an application, but have not completed the enrollment process by actually paying their share, the per-person taxpayer cost decreases to $83,162.

Not surprisingly, by far the greatest number of customers, 3,213, have been those who will receive their coverage for free, through the Medicaid program.  Bringing them into the mix brings the per-person taxpayer cost to $22,504… just to set up the site, remember, not to partially or fully subsidize their coverage.

Adding in the $35.6 million that the federal government gave to the University of Massachusetts Medical School in order to benefit all New England states (except New Hampshire), the costs per Rhode Island enrollment increases to $504,569, $113,020, and $30,583.  However, this number does not take into account individuals who may have enrolled in other states’ exchanges, so only a portion of the total is actually attributable to Rhode Island customers.