Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), May 2019: A Little Help from UHIP

For the May 2019 iteration of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), the Ocean State returned to its prior rank of 47 thanks to the troubled Unified Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP). One of the six updated datapoints (out of 12) was SNAP (foodstamps), but only in the sense that it was updated for every state except RI and North Carolina. In Rhode Island’s case, the reason is that UHIP has prevented the state from updating its SNAP enrollment numbers since February 2017. So as other states’ rankings were affected by the shift in SNAP payments due to the government shutdown, RI’s report skipped over the whole thing.

The overall improvement in rank was despite decreases by other measures. Employment was down another494 people from the first-reported number for April, and the labor force dropped another 845. Jobs based within the state fell a whopping 1,600.

On the bright side, 871 fewer Rhode Islanders were enrolled in Medicaid for this report.

On the other hand, annualized state and local taxation increased by $13 million. That result is on top of the $41 million increase in local taxation in our prior report.

The first chart at shows RI remaining last in New England on JOI, at 47th. New Hampshire still leads the region in 3rd place, nationally. Vermont regained three spots, moving to 11th place, while Maine held steady again in 18th. Massachusetts dropped one, to 37th, but Connecticut moved up five ranks, to 39th.

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 worsened in the first case but improved in the second.

Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI remained 28th.
  • Freedom Factor (the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI improved by six, to 42nd.
  • Prosperity Factor (the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI remained 47th.

Click here for the corresponding employment post on the Ocean State Current.