Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), March 2019: In Need of a Turnaround… Soon

Although its rank did not change, March was not a good month for Rhode Island on the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI). With four of the 12 datapoints’ changing, RI is still 47th in the country, but slippage in employment and income brings a warning sign of things that might be yet to come.

Employment was down another 521 people from the first-reported number for Feburary, and the labor force dropped 1,234. Jobs based within the state showed an increase of 300, but the prior number has since been revised up, so the official news is no change.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released quarterly data for personal income in each state, and Rhode Island is the only one to show a decrease from the first-reported number for the prior quarter. We should note, however, that the numbers from last quarter have been revised down enough that the decrease actually shows as an increase in the official data.

We should also note that Rhode Island remains the only state that is unable to report estimates for monthly enrollment in the federal SNAP program (foodstamps). Until this problem is repaired, we will simply hold Rhode Island’s enrollment at the last-reported level, which is from February 2017.

The first chart shows RI remaining last in New England on JOI, at 47th. In New England, New Hampshire leads the region, in 3rd place, nationally. Vermont fell a spot, to 12th place, while Maine held steady in 18th. Massachusetts and Connecticut also held their positions, at 36th and 42nd, respectively

Rhode Island Jobs March 2019 New England Race To National First Place

The second chart shows the gaps between RI and New England and the United States on JOI, and the third chart shows the gaps in the official unemployment rate. RI’s gap improved slightly in all cases.

Rhode Island Jobs March 2019 New England Scores on Jobs & Opportunity Index
Rhode Island Unemployment Rate, Jobs March 2019, New England Jobs & Opportunity Index

Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI remained 24th.
  • Freedom Factor (the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI remained 42nd.
  • Prosperity Factor (the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI remained 47th.
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