In an unusual circumstance 11 of the 12 datapoints used for the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) were updated for April, and the end result was not a happy one. RI overtook Louisiana in 2017 to claim the 47th rank in the country after five years at 48. For the month of April, RI has lost that gain, despite improved numbers by five measures.
Employment was not one of those five, down another 269 people from the first-reported number for March, and the labor force dropped yet another 1,009. Jobs based within the state represented a bright spot, with an increase of 5,400. Alternate measures of unemployment gave RI two more positive developments, with long-term unemployment down 600 and marginal attachment to the labor force down 200. However, this seems likely to have been caused by worker exits. This more-negative interpretation is justified by the fact that people who are involuntarily working part time increased by 1,100.
On the welfare side, the Ocean State had 5,209 fewer people on Medicaid, which is positive. However, enrollment in TANF (welfare) was up 407, and the state still cannot manage to update its SNAP (food stamps) data, which haven’t moved since February 2017. The taxation picture is mixed. The federal government collected almost $200 million less from Rhode Islanders, but state and local taxation increased by $41 million.
The first chart shows RI remaining last in New England on JOI, at 48th. New Hampshire leads the region, in 3rd place, nationally. Vermont fell two spots, to 14th place, while Maine held steady in 18th. Massachusetts also remained in place, at 36th, but Connecticut dropped two, to 44th.
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.
Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:
- Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI fell four spots, to 28th.
- Freedom Factor (the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI fell six spots, to 48th.
- Prosperity Factor (the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI remained 47th.
Click here for the corresponding employment situation post on the Ocean State Current.