people who work hard and play by the rules should be able to build a better
life for themselves and their families. A new report by Prosperity Now
(formerly CFED) shows that while Rhode Island has made some progress to help
low-income families build a more prosperous future, more remains to be done.
The 2018 Prosperity Now
Scorecard found that unemployment in Rhode Island is at its lowest rate in
more than a decade, and average annual pay for workers increased slightly in
the last year. Despite these gains, however, income inequality remains a
significant problem for the state; the richest 20% of households now earn 5.3
times more than the poorest 20%, a disparity larger than that of most other
Island fares best (compared to other outcome categories, as well as to other
states) in health care, ranking 10th overall. The Ocean State’s
lowest ranking category is homeownership and housing, in which we rank 49th.
when diving deeper, Rhode Island fares poorly across several indicators by
race, with failing grades on four of seven indicators for which Rhode Island
has data by race in the Scorecard.
Households of color are more than twice as likely as their White neighbors to
live below the federal poverty line. Limited incomes are at least partly to blame for limited
as evidenced by the fact that whereas 65.4% of White households own their
homes, the same is true for only 28.3% of households of color in Rhode Island.
report shows what we already know: many Rhode Islanders are still struggling to
make ends meet and provide for their families. As other reports this year have
shown, Rhode Islanders of color continue to face greater challenges than their
White neighbors and our state must focus on how to overcome those disparities.
Increasing the minimum wage, expanding the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit,
addressing affordable housing, and investing in early education are just some
of the tools we should use to make sure all Rhode Islanders can prosper.