Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), June 2019: Positive Slippage

Although Rhode Island maintained its overall ranking of 47th in the country on the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), the Ocean State slipped on two of the three subfactors. Six of the 12 datapoints used for the index were updated for this iteration, although one of them was SNAP (foodstamps), for which RI has not updated numbers for two-and-a-half years. (UHIP has prevented the state from updating its SNAP enrollment numbers since February 2017.)

In absolute terms, Rhode Island improved on most of the measures. Employment was up 226 people from the first-reported number for May, and jobs based within the state increased a sizable 3,500. However, the labor force, which includes people working or looking for work) dropped another 69. Again, fewer Rhode Islanders were enrolled in Medicaid for this report. Specifically, the rolls dropped by 1,514 people. Meanwhile, total personal income (including wages and investments) increased $349 million.

Despite generally positive results, however, Rhode Island lost ground on two parts of the index (see below for descriptions). On the Job Outlook measure, North Carolina overtook Rhode Island to claim 28th. On the Freedom Factor, it was Kentucky that switched places with the Ocean State, to claim 42nd.

The first chart shows RI remaining last in New England on JOI, at 47th. New Hampshire still leads the region and gained a place, to 2nd nationally. Vermont slipped a spot to 12th place, while Maine remained unmoving, at 18th. Massachusetts also remained in place, at 37th, but Connecticut dropped one, to 40th.

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 all respects.

Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI fell one, to 29th.
  • Freedom Factor (the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI fell one, to 43rd.
  • Prosperity Factor (the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI remained 47th.