Rhode Islanders want to prosper in an economic climate that
rewards hard work, encourages small-business growth, creates quality jobs, and
can lead to a better life for their families. In this regard, the
traditionally cited monthly unemployment rate is often used by state lawmakers
as a benchmark to evaluate the effectiveness of state economic policy
initiatives. However, this rate represents a very narrow glimpse of the
employment health of a state and can often paint an incomplete, or even
inaccurate, snapshot of the broader economic picture. Our Center has
developed the Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) as a broader and
deeper measure of economic well-being to address this problem.
Covering a two-month span, the JOI for October includes new
numbers for eight of 12 datapoints, leaving the Ocean State trapped in 49th
place, nationally. Employment was down 1,457 from the previously
recorded number, while labor force fell 1,920. Also negative was the 3,900 drop
in RI-based jobs, suggesting that it isn't just a quirk of the survey.
Medicaid continued its climb, although the 443-person increase wasn't as high
as in past months. One of the apparent improvements came via SNAP (food
stamps), with a 392-enrollee drop, but the state's well-reported problems
providing the benefit may indicate that the decrease isn't based on Rhode
Islanders' need, but on the government's incompetence.
The chart above shows Rhode Island still in the last position in
New England, 49th in the country, while New Hampshire remained 1st. In their close
back and forth, Vermont edged out Maine, putting them in 16th and 17th place,
respectively. Massachusetts stayed put, at 31st, while Connecticut fell three
spots to 39th.
For employment data to be an accurate representation of the
economy in any state, it must take into account the lived experience of the
people who reside and work there. Moreover, for comparisons across time
and across states, additional benchmarks are necessary. While progressives
value government-centric, taxpayer-funded dependency... our Center believes in
the value of hard work and the free-enterprise system.
Mike Stenhouse, CEO