August brought an apparent improvement in Rhode Island’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) ranking from the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, to 46th in the country, largely as a result of decreasing state and local tax revenue. Of the five (of 12) datapoints that were updated for August, four were positive, from JOI’s perspective, with a negative for jobs based in the state.
Employment was up from the first-reported number for July by 1,001, while labor force was up 256. The larger growth of employment than labor force translated into a drop of the unemployment rate to 4.0%. The growth in labor force was much smaller, this month, which may be related to the fact that RI-based jobs decreased by 1,900. Back on the positive side, however, was the 1,419 drop in Medicaid enrollment and $191 million reduction in state and local taxes. This last point may be too early to celebrate. Before next month’s JOI report, numbers should be updated for Rhode Islanders’ income, and if less income was the cause of the lower taxation, the net effect would not be an indicator of health.
The Ocean State saw no change in any of the subfactors that go into its overall JOI ranking. The jump in place to 46th resulted from New York’s falling behind with a drop in jobs and an increase in state and local taxes.
The first chart shows RI last in New England. New Hampshire leads the region, with 3rd place, nationally. Vermont jumped past Maine, moving eight spots to 13th while Maine moved up only one spot, to 16th; note, though, that this results from Vermont’s nation-leading loss in state and local revenue, so income numbers may reverse its progress. Massachusetts held at 35th, and Connecticut fell two spots, to 39th.
The second chart shows the gap between RI and New England and the United States on JOI. The third chart shows the gaps in the official unemployment rate.
Results for the three underlying Jobs & Opportunity Index August 2018 factors were:
- Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI remained 17th.
- 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.
Click here for the corresponding employment post on the Ocean State Current.