On the Center's August Jobs & Opportunity Index, Rhode Island falls to 49th place in the country while New Hampshire remained in first place.

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), August 2017: Rhode Island Squeezes the Distance from Last Place

With all but one of the 12 datapoints used for the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) updated, the Ocean State has lost its long-held grip on 48th in the country and slipped to 49th. The formula for JOI ranked Rhode Island 42nd in 2005, with a slide to 48th in 2012, where the state sat for five years.


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The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is the Ocean State’s leading voice against the wreckage caused by our state’s progressive agenda.

As the state’s leading research organization, advancing family and business friendly values… the mission of our Center is to make Rhode Island a better place to call home – to raise a family and to build a career.

While progressives value government-centric, taxpayer-funded dependency… our Center believes in the value of hard work and the free-enterprise system.

We understand that in order for more Rhode Island families to have a better quality of life, that more and better businesses are needed to create more and better jobs.

Your donation will help us fight the union-progressive movement and, instead, advocate for pro-family, pro-business policies and values.

Please make a generous, tax-deductible gift to support our Center today!

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Federal taxes collected in Rhode Island were the only metric not updated since the June report. Employment was down 592 from the previously recorded number (for June), while labor force fell 123. However, RI-based jobs increased by 3,100. Medicaid added another 4,837 Rhode Islanders, although SNAP (food stamps) shed 3,826 and TANF (welfare) decreased by 1,728. Long-term unemployment and the number of marginally attached workers fell (by 600 and 100, respectively), but those working part-time because they can’t find full-time work increased by 800.

Perhaps most significantly, Rhode Islanders’ annualized personal income (wages and investments) fell by 1.5%, or $679 million. At the same time, state and local taxes edged up by $20 million. The Ocean State remained in 47th place for the income-to-taxes, which is JOI’s Prosperity Factor.

The chart at right shows Rhode Island still in the last position in New England, 49th in the country, while New Hampshire remained 1st. Maine moved ahead of Vermont, although both improved by several places, to 17th and 18th, respectively. Massachusetts and Connecticut both stayed put, at 31st and 36th.

The second chart shows the gap between RI and New England and the U.S. on JOI. In both cases, RI’s gap worsened. Switching to the official unemployment rate, RI’s gap slimmed slightly.

Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI fell seven places, to 33rd.
  • Freedom Factor (the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI remained 41st.
  • Prosperity Factor (the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI remained 47th.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 6, 2017

Ocean State drops to 49th, nationally

Broader JOI metric undercuts boastful claims by state’s political leaders

Providence, RI – Recent boasts by state leaders about unemployment rate declines were once again undercut by a broader measure of worker prosperity. Compilation of federal government data into the national Jobs & Opprotunity Index (JOI) for August 2017 by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, showed that Rhode Island now ranks second-worst in the country (49th), dropping one spot from the most recent JOI report.

“The very narrow unemployment rate calculation doesn’t care how few hours a person works, how much they earn, how much they have to depend on government assistance, or how much in taxes they pay. The broader JOI metric takes all these factors into consideration,” said the Center’s research director, Justin Katz. “State leaders are misleading the public when they cherry pick an inadequate metric for political grandstanding.”

Among New England states, Rhode Island remained last, far behind perennial first-place New Hampshire.

The most alarming news for Rhode Islanders is that their annualized personal incomes actually fell by 1.5% while, at the same time, taxes paid increased.

Additional charts and details of each of JOI’s three sub-factors can be viewed here.

Rhode Island’s JOI rankings are also more in line with other broader national indexes, such as the Family Prosperity Index and CNBC’s Business Climate Index, where the Ocean State has consistently ranked in the bottom-five. “Most likely, our state’s misleading unemployment rate ranking means that many Ocean Staters are working in low-paying or part-time jobs, and are simultaneously burdened by excessive state and local taxes,” concluded Katz.

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The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is the Ocean State’s leading voice against the wreckage caused by our state’s progressive agenda.

As the state’s leading research organization, advancing family and business friendly values… the mission of our Center is to make Rhode Island a better place to call home – to raise a family and to build a career.

While progressives value government-centric, taxpayer-funded dependency… our Center believes in the value of hard work and the free-enterprise system.

We understand that in order for more Rhode Island families to have a better quality of life, that more and better businesses are needed to create more and better jobs.

Your donation will help us fight the union-progressive movement and, instead, advocate for pro-family, pro-business policies and values.

Please make a generous, tax-deductible gift to support our Center today!

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