Statement: Ocean State Jobs Picture Not As Rosy As It Seems

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 25, 2015

RI Employment Picture Tainted by Dwindling Labor Force
Center to publish new quarterly jobs index in 2016

Providence, RI — The traditional monthly unemployment rate, widely reported by most news outlets, often paints an incomplete and misleading snapshot of the true jobs and economic picture in the state, according to a monthly analysis by the nonpartisan Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) measures six levels of unemployment, U1 thru U6, it is only the U3 unemployment rate that is regularly cited: U3 narrowly measures the number of unemployed people as a percentage of the labor force. However, U3 is largely dependent on labor force size; so when the labor force drops, usually considered a negative economic indicator, it generally produces a lower U3 unemployment rate, which is conversely seen as a positive.

For instance, in October of 2015, Rhode Island’s unemployment rate dropped, from 5.4% in September, to 5.3% in October. But, as has often been the case, that apparent positive outcome is the result of two negative trends; employment levels actually dropped (by 630 people) and 1,636 Rhode Islanders gave up looking for work, thus shrinking the labor force.

“The falling unemployment rate is the one statistic that Rhode Island politicians like to cite as evidence of economic progress,” said Research Director Justin Katz, “but two losses don’t make a gain. If our state’s poor business climate hadn’t driven so many people out of its labor force since the recession, unemployment would never have dipped below 8%, and it would be on its way back up, right now.”

Among the specific findings in the October analysis:

  • RI’s unemployment rate would be 8.2% if the state had maintained the same size labor force at it had before the recent recession
  • RI lags far behind its MA and CT neighbors in terms of recovering its employment and labor force levels since before the recent recession

For graphs, charts and a more detailed analysis of Rhode Island’s October employment status click here.

In order to account for this contradiction and to provide Rhode Islanders with a broader and more accurate picture of the state’s actual jobs market, in Q1 of 2016, the Center plans to publish a quarterly Jobs Opportunity Index which will incorporate all six BLS Unemployment categories. The other BLS U-categories more broadly take into account such measurements as underemployed and discouraged workers; people who are willing to work, but for whatever reason, have not looked for work or who are working only on a part-time basis – yet who do not fit the narrow U3 definition of “unemployed”.

Media Contact:
Justin Katz
401-835-7156 | jkatz@oceanstatecurrent.com

Mike Stenhouse, CEO
401.429.6115 | info@rifreedom.org

About the Center
The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is Rhode Island’s premiere free-enterprise research and advocacy organization. The mission of the 501-C-3 nonprofit organization is to return government to the people by opposing special-interest politics and advancing proven free-market solutions that can transform lives by restoring economic competitiveness, increasing educational opportunities, and protecting individual freedoms.

Rhode Island Employment Snapshot, October 2015: Two Losses Don’t Make a Gain

[Click here for the printable one-page PDF of this post.]

For yet another month, Rhode Island’s unemployment rate dropped, from 5.4% in September, to 5.3% in September, according to data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). And for yet another month, that positive outcome resulted from two negative results. Employment actually dropped by 630 people, but 1,636 Rhode Islanders gave up looking. Meanwhile, jobs based in the state increased by a mere 100 after a sizable drop the month before.

The first chart shows that October’s results represent a turnaround in Rhode Island’s employment fortunes. (Although the likelihood remains that the year’s early increases will be revised away.) The trend of large early gains which are revised downward substnatially has been established for several years, now.

RI-laborforceandemp-0107-1015

Every state in New England lost employment, in October, so the columns in the second chart are smaller for both Massachusetts and Connecticut, this month, but Rhode Island remains the only Southern New England state well below its employment and labor force as of January 2007.

RIMACT-laborforceandemp-1015perc0107

The third chart is the most illustrative of the skepticism that readers should have when watching the unemployment rate, the red line shows what Rhode Island’s unemployment rate would have been if the labor force had not shrunk since January 2007. As of October, the unemployment rate would actually be going back up, having never dipped below 8%. For October, the unemployment rate would be 8.2%.

RI-unemploymentrate-steadyLF-0107-1015

Center Receives Farm Bureau Award For Anti-RhodeMap RI Work

Center Feted for Raising Awareness about
HUD & Federal Intrusion

November 19, 2015, Alpine Country Club in Cranston, RI

The RI Center for Freedom for Prosperity Accepts the RI Farm Bureau’s 2015 Navigator Award

The award recognized the Center “for being the faithful and undaunting watchdog and protector of freedom and prosperity granted to all Rhode Islanders,” in raising awareness about the federal HUD agenda implemented in RI called RhodeMap RI, which could threaten the property rights and values of farmers throughout the state, as well as other private property owners.

In accepting the award on behalf of the Center’s board and staff, CEO Mike Stenhouse thanked the Bureau for standing with other concerned citizens against the intrusive federal power and land grab by HUD. Stenhouse drew parallels to a topic raised earlier in the evening by a speaker from the American Farm Bureau, about how the federal EPA has similarly been seeking to control more and more local land through its controversial, so-called Clean Water Act, which would further restrict land use for many farmers.

RIFarmBureauAward-MS   … RIFarmBureauAward2        ?

Stenhouse added that private property ownership and rights to develop land are fundamental precepts of America’s free-enterprise system, and that the Center would continue to fight against federal and state mandates that would restrict those freedoms.

Also receiving Navigator awards were: Representative Patricia Morgan (R, D26) for her work in fighting proposed tolls, which would directly impact farm trucks; and Senator Susan Sosnowski (D, D38) for her legislative support of farmer’s issues.

The RI Farm Bureau is the voice of thousands of Rhode Island farmers when it comes to dealing with issues that impact the agriculture industry.

STATEMENT: Poor PARCC Scores Demonstrate that RI Families Need More Choices

STATEMENT

November 17, 2015

One-Size-Fits-All Government Schools Not Adequately Preparing Many Students for Success in College, Career, and Life

Empowering Parents with More Choices Needed Now More Than Ever

For a more detailed analysis of RI’s PARCC scores, read the blog on The Ocean State Current

 

Providence, RI — The disappointing results among RI students in the recently released PARCC test scores re-enforce the need to empower families with additional educational choice options, according to a statement today from the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

“Education is the civil rights issue of our time. Every parent wants an effective education for their children that prepares them for college, career, and life. When government schools fail to inspire students, it is our moral obligation to provide each and every child with an immediate and better option,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “Our proposed ESA legislation empowers parents to choose a public or private educational path for their children that will motivate and challenge them.”

The PARCC results further demonstrate that educational funding is not the primary issue. Rhode Island public schools spend among the highest per pupil in the nation, yet numerous national benchmarks place Rhode Island student performance at below average or middle of the pack.

As compared with PARCC results in Massachusetts, for example, even the Ocean State’s better performing school districts, would be just about average in the Bay State.

The Center recommends that significant reforms and immediate options are required to benefit all students.

The Center is part of the statewide Bright Today coalition advocating for an educational choice policy that would directly benefit students trapped in schools that do not adequately prepare them for a secure and successful future, by empowering parents – via Educational Scholarship Accounts (ESA) that can be used at private schools of the parents’ choice.

For more information about ESAs, visit RIFreedom.org/EdChoiceRI.

Media Contact:
Mike Stenhouse, CEO
401.429.6115 | info@rifreedom.org

About the Center
The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is Rhode Island’s premiere free-enterprise research and advocacy organization. The mission of the 501-C-3 nonprofit organization is to return government to the people by opposing special-interest politics and advancing proven free-market solutions that can transform lives by restoring economic competitiveness, increasing educational opportunities, and protecting individual freedoms.

NEW: Failing RI Report Card Grades Not Advancing Social Justice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17, 2015

Non-Competitive Grades Harming Work, Mobility, and Opportunity for Rhode Islanders
Preponderance of Fs and Ds Should Signal Need for Change in Policy Culture

Providence, RI — The opportunity for upward mobility for many Ocean Staters continues to be hampered by a non-competitive business climate and onerous family tax burdens, as evidenced by the poor grades the State of Rhode Island received on the 2015 Report Card on Rhode Island Competitiveness, the fourth annual such report, released today by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

Burdened with public policies that discourage work and a productive lifestyle, the state’s poor grades in 10 major categories (two F’s, seven D’s, and one C) reflect a government culture geared to benefit special interest insiders, while at the same time promoting job-crushing and soul-crushing dependency among the general populace.

Raising even further alarm, Rhode Island ranked dead-last, overall, when compared with report cards from other New England states.

“This report card clearly demonstrates the wreckage that decades of liberal policies have wrought upon our state. These unacceptable grades should be a wake-up call to lawmakers that a government-centric approach is not producing the social justice and self-sufficiency that Rhode Islanders crave,” suggested Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “If we want to provide more mobility and opportunity for our neighbors and entrepreneurs, we must completely reform our public policy approach. We must learn to trust in our people and remove the tax and regulatory boot of government off of their backs by advancing policies that empower the average family with choices, that reward work, and that grow the economy.”

The two categories with F grades are Infrastructure and Health Care; the seven D’s are Business Climate, Tax Burden, Spending & Debt, Employment & Income, Energy, Public Sector labor, and Living & Retirement in Rhode Island; while Education received a C-. Among the 52 sub-categories evaluated, Rhode Island received 19 F’s, 24 D’s, 5 Cs, 3 Bs, and just one lone A.

In a related 1-page brief, the Center also analyzes report card trends over recent years as well as comparisons to grades for other New England states.

The RI Report Card, originally developed for the Center by a national economist, compiles into a single document the state rankings among key economic and social indexes, as published by dozens of credible 3rd party national organizations.

The 2015 report card, with citations, as well as reports from prior years can be downloaded at RIFreedom.org/RIReportCard.

Media Contact:
Mike Stenhouse, CEO
401.429.6115 | info@rifreedom.org

About the Center
The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is Rhode Island’s premiere free-enterprise research and advocacy organization. The mission of the 501-C-3 nonprofit organization is to return government to the people by opposing special-interest politics and advancing proven free-market solutions that can transform lives by restoring economic competitiveness, increasing educational opportunities, and protecting individual freedoms.

Rhode Island Report Card, 2015: Policy Culture Not Advancing Social Justice & Fairness

[button url=”http://rifreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/RICFP-RIReportCard-2015.pdf” target=”_blank” size=”medium” style=”royalblue” ]2015 Report Card[/button] [button url=”http://rifreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/RICFP-RIReportCard-2015-wnotes.pdf” target=”_blank” size=”medium” style=”royalblue” ]2015 Report Card (with citations)[/button] [button url=”http://rifreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/RICFP-RIReportCard-2015-brief.pdf” target=”_blank” size=”medium” style=”royalblue” ]4-year & New England comparison[/button]

Go to Report Card home page

When the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity began compiling its annual Competitiveness Report Card for Rhode Island in 2012, the idea was to show how we, as a state, were doing, compared with our New England neighbors and the country as a whole. That first year, the report card showed five Fs and five Ds. Now, in its fourth iteration, with various changes of methodology and some new categories, the total isn’t much better, with two Fs, eight Ds, and one C, as shown in the following chart.

RICFP-RIReportCard-majorcategories-2015

Looking at the subcategories that result in those grades shows some minor shifting from F to Ds, but the overall picture has not improved substantially in a way that indicates changing prospects. See the following chart.

RICFP-RIReportCard-subcategories-2012-2015

These results put RI at the back of the New England pack as shown in the table below (organized by overall grade point average, from left to right).

RIReportcard-NEStateComparisons-2015

Putting those results alongside the Center’s experience dealing with state government on a variety of issues, over the years, the metaphor of a graded report card seems to miss the mark in an important way: These grades are not how we are doing; they are a reflection of what insiders, cronies, and special interests are doing to us.

While Rhode Island government is failing the people of Rhode Island, the lackadaisical attitude about improving the state’s performance suggests that it is not failing everybody. The insiders and special interests are benefiting from these results, and they have tremendous incentive to keep them going.

Although it would go too far to say that they want Rhode Island to fail and Rhode Islanders to suffer, the people doing this to the Ocean State clearly don’t consider success and opportunity for others to be a priority. Any good that can be done for the people of Rhode Island is hindered by the one overriding requirement that those within the system must continue to get theirs first.

2015 Report Card FAILS to Provide Equal Opportunity for Rhode Islanders

The Center’s 4th annual REPORT CARD demonstrates how RI’s political class continues to cater to special insiders, while depriving other Rhode Islanders of the opportunity for upward mobility, educational opportunity, and personal prosperity.

[button url=”http://rifreedom.org/RIReportCard/” target=”_self” size=”medium” style=”royalblue” ] 2015 Report Card [/button]

STATEMENT: Statewide Teacher Contract Is An Off Base Approach

STATEMENT
November 11, 2015

Statewide Contract Would Infringe on Local Sovereignty, No Focus of Educating Students

Providence, RI — The focus of educational reform should be for the benefit of students – not on compensating adults – according to a statement today from the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity. Further, a statewide teacher’s contract, currently being looked at by a new Senate commission, would infringe on the sovereignty of municipalities and local school committees.

“It is a highly disturbing trend in Rhode Island for the State to continue to seek control over more and more local matters. We saw this with RhodeMap RI, with firefighter union issues, and now, potentially, with teachers. It is well established that local government is the best government where the people can best hold their elected officials accountable,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “Too often, the teachers unions make the compensation of teachers the focus of debate rather than the education of students in our under-performing government-run school system. ”

The Center maintains that a one-size-fits-all approach is off-base and cannot possibly serve the best interests of the many and diverse local school districts in Rhode Island; and that giving more centralized influence to unions is not in the best interests of our children.

However, the Center believes there can be a state role in saving money for local school districts. Negotiating and offering a large group health insurance option, that local districts can choose to participate in or not – as opposed to a mandate that would surely be part of any statewide contract – is one such concept.

The Center is part of a statewide coalition advocating for an educational choice policy that would directly benefit students trapped in schools that do not adequately prepare them for college or for life, by empowering parents to choose the best educational path for their children. For more information, visit RIFreedom.org/EdChoiceRI.

Media Contact:
Mike Stenhouse, CEO
401.429.6115 | info@rifreedom.org

About the Center
The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is Rhode Island’s premiere free-enterprise research and advocacy organization. The mission of the 501-C-3 nonprofit organization is to return government to the people by opposing special-interest politics and advancing proven free-market solutions that can transform lives by restoring economic competitiveness, increasing educational opportunities, and protecting individual freedoms.