The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) reports have been noting for a while that the state’s economy hasn’t been living up to the hype. October didn’t change that story. The Ocean State is still 47th in the country, with nine of the 12 datapoints in the index updated, and the indicators suggest Rhode Islanders are growing skeptical of improvement. (Note that Rhode Island remains the only state not updating its SNAP [food stamp] data, thanks to UHIP.)
Employment was up a tiny 50 people from the first-reported number for September. Meanwhile, the labor force dropped 685, people unemployed for more than 15 weeks went up by 700, and those who are only able to find part-time work increased by 1,600. To balance that a little, the number of jobs in the state went up by 1,000, while 200 fewer Rhode Islanders said they were only marginally attached to the employment market. Of course, that may be because they completely gave up. The discouraging results for labor force and alternative employment measures were enough to cause a nine-place drop for the ocean state in the Job Outlook Factor.
At the same time, the number of Rhode Islanders relying on Medicaid went up 736 enrollees. The TANF (welfare) data was finally updated after more than a year and showed that the numbers had decreased by 920. We should emphasize, however, that this data still lags considerably, reflecting the results from June.
The first chart shows RI last in New England. New Hampshire leads the region, in 3rd place, nationally. Vermont held 13th place, but Maine advanced a step to 15th. Massachusetts slipped one, to 36th, while Connecticut stumbled two spots, to 40th.
The second chart shows the gap between RI and New England and the United States on October 2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index. The third chart shows the gaps in the official unemployment rate.
Results for the three underlying October 2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index factors were:
- Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI dropped to 26th.
- 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.