Workforce Participation Decline in RI Dismal for Women & Minorities

Overall decline in labor market participation underscores failed public policy in the Ocean State.
October 7, 2014; Providence, RI  – The dismal employment market in Rhode Island has been disproportionately adverse to women and minorities, according to data released today by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, in conjunction with the Liberty Foundation.
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While the overall labor participation rate declined for the entire state by 2.4 percentage points from 2010 thru 2013 to 65.3%, the decline among certain demographic groups in Rhode Island was considerably worse.
  • Women in RI experienced a drop of 3.6 points to 60.1%
  • Blacks/African Americans suffered a whopping drop of 8.1 points to 65.4%
  • Hispanics bore a significant drop of 5.9 points to 66.3%
Meanwhile, men saw a 1 point decline over this same period.
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“It is obvious that the tax and spend policies implemented by our elected officials have failed our state and have been especially harmful to the very same people many of these spending programs were intended to help,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “A new, pro-jobs public policy culture is sorely needed if we’re to help the tens of thousands of Ocean Staters who are unemployed or who have quit looking for work.”
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Nationally, a similar story has unfolded, as a record 55,553,000 women 16 years and older did not participate in the labor force in September of 2014, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with the participation rate for women dipping to 56.7%, which has not been this low since September of 1988 when it was 56.6%.
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Looking at a longer period in the Ocean State, workforce participation, defined as the percentage of the population in the labor force (those working plus those actively looking for work), has dropped 1.9 percentage points to 65.3% since 1999, with most of this drop attributable to men and blacks. Black and Hispanic participation rates, albeit highly volatile, were significantly higher than whites over most of this period, but have recently plummeted to about the same levels.
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With a general election scheduled for early November, voters should think hard about whether or not to re-elect incumbent legislators and whether or not to approve a Constitutional Convention that would give the people of Rhode Island a more voice in their government. “The time is now to move away from the special interest politics that have crippled our state,” added Stenhouse.
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For a highly detailed demographic breakdown over this 15-yr period, click here. (Includes age specific breakdowns for Men, Women, Whites, Hispanics, Blacks, and Asians)
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About the Liberty Foundation
The Liberty Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit, non-partisan organization, located in Oklahoma City, OK that partners with like-minded entities in states to educate and share research and talent all in an effort to rebalance the powers of the federal government and re-assert states’ rights.