For the June Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), nine out of 13 datapoints had new numbers, leading to some more-significant changes than usual… although not in Rhode Island, which remains stagnant. Even where the Ocean State’s underlying results were positive, its position relative to the rest of the country worsened, leaving no change in its rankings, including its 48th overall position. For comparison, the state’s unemployment rate slipped one rank, to 37th.
The three monthly employment datapoints saw improvement, with employment up 369, labor force up 791, and RI-based jobs up 1,700. However, these still appear to be oscillating around stagnation. Medicaid enrollment increased by 2,043 from the prior period, while SNAP decreased by 794 and TANF by 677. Rhode Islanders’ personal income increased $751 million in the first quarter of 2016 over the prior quarter, but state and local taxes increased $61 million over the same period, representing an increase in the percentage of income absorbed by government.
The first chart shows the six New England states in the national race. Maine and Vermont both managed increases in overall JOI score, with a reduction in state and local taxes moving Maine to the second slot in New England, or 17th place nationally, to Vermont’s 19th. New Hampshire slipped to 4th place nationally on the strength of an increase in state and local taxes (which may have been a change in property tax reporting more than actual collections). Connecticut moved up to 33rd, and Massachusetts stayed in its slot at 37th.
Overall, the gap between Rhode Island’s JOI score and the New England and national averages decreased in June. When it comes to the unemployment rate, Rhode Island gained ground with both (third chart).
Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:
- Job Outlook Factor (measuring optimism adequate work is available): RI remained at 43rd.
- Freedom Factor (measuring the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI still ranks 39th.
- Prosperity Factor (measuring the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI still ranks 46th.