RI economy

Aaron Read / RIPR

Rhode Island’s economy remains in the doldrums. That’s the takeaway from the latest unemployment and jobs data released Thursday by the state Department of Labor and Training

The state’s jobless rate inched up from 5.4 percent to 5.5 percent in June.  The good news is that the state gained 1,700 jobs. The bad news is that job growth remains sluggish, with a decline of 100 jobs in the first six months  of 2016.

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If you’re wealthy, you may see the British exit from Europe’s economy as an opportunity. 

There is much to like in what appears to be a reasonable Rhode Island House budget proposal  for the state fiscal year that begins on July 1st. There were goodies for business, beach-goers, retirees on pensions and small business.

But one neglected area is those who work long hours at minimum wage jobs. The budget does modestly increase the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps working families, but it does not raise the minimum wage.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

General Electric is slated to bring hundreds of jobs to Rhode Island for a new GE digital information technology center, starting with 100 in the near future.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Rhode Island has yet another study on what ails our state’s economy, this time from the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C. think-tank. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders what it will take to translate this plan into action.

Gov. Gina Raimondo’s recent roll out of more than $4 million in job training grants to a bevy of Rhode Island agencies likely includes some money that may end up training Connecticut workers, RIPR has learned.

Aaron Read / RIPR

The latest Rhode Island job numbers are the usual mix of good and not-so-good.

While the rest of the country experienced strong job growth in October, Rhode Island did not. Total jobs were down 600 from the September number of 528,100. The long-beleaguered construction sector is finally picking up, adding 500 jobs in October, the largest gain in construction since April, 2006, when 700 jobs were added.

That was tamped down by declines in food services, government employment and manufacturing.

Aaron Read / RIPR

Rhode Island’s unemployment dipped slightly in August, but the state’s recovery from the recession remains fragile, according to data released today by the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training.

The unemployment rate ticked down to 5.6 percent, still above the national rate of 5.1 percent. And the state lost 800 jobs between July and August. In July, the Ocean State unemployment rate was 5.8 percent.

Aaron Read

Rhode Island’s unemployment rate  inched down to 5.9 percent in June, the lowest level since 2007, the state Department of Labor and Training has announced.

The rate has dropped 1.8 percentage points since June, 2014, when it was 7.7 percent.  The level in May was 6.0 percent. Rhode Island’s jobless rate is still above the national average, which was 5.3 percent in June, six-tenths of a percent lower than in the Ocean State.

In a statement, Gov. Gina Raimondo lamented that Rhode Island is not recovering from the recession as fast as the rest of the country.

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So Twin River’s parent company wants to build a new casino in Tiverton.   The idea is likely to raise a few eyebrows, but RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it  has to be done.

There are many Rhode Islanders who don’t believe that state government should be in the business of promoting gambling. Those critics point out the lottery games and slot-machine emporiums that speckle New England like daffodils these days are little more than cheap taxes on the poor.

The last budget crafted by former Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s administration and the General Assembly seems to be holding up fairly well, according to the latest revenue assessment by the Rhode Island  Department of Revenue.

The official state bean-counters say that adjusted total general revenues are up about $61 million more than expected in the current budget year, which ends on June 30. This is good news for a state that has been slowly emerging from the recession.

The 2.6 percent increase in revenues is fueled by increases in the personal income tax and the corporate tax.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Rhode Island’s foundering economic is again the top Statehouse topic. Political analyst Scott MacKay has some thoughts as we at Rhode Island Public Radio kickoff our series on our state’s slow recession recovery. 

If Rhode Island was a lake, we’d all be drowning under the weight of decades of reports and high falutin  expert commissions charged with dissecting our state’s economic doldrums. Wonks, business leaders, academics and consultants have produced turgid chronicles – with scant results – on how to heal the sickest economy in New England.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo is meeting with Rhode Island business leaders as she shapes her new administration. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay hopes the business hierarchy steps up to help her.

Raimondo is taking over a state government that is much better off than the one Gov. Lincoln Chafee inherited from Don Carcieri four years ago. Unemployment was 11.4 percent; now it’s at 7.4 percent. The state budget deficit is much lower and cities and towns are not hovering over bankruptcy. Even Central Falls is out of receivership.

CVS Health

What to make of the news that CVS Health, which is headquartered in Rhode Island, is opening a high-tech center in Boston.  RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay has some thoughts.

Rhode Island-based CVS Health employs more than 7,000 workers in our state. The pharmacy giant calls Woonsocket home, but the recent news that it is opening a high-tech center in Boston sent shivers through segments of the business and  economic development community in a state with New England’s highest unemployment rate.

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