The U.S. Census Bureau’s latest data contain mixed signals about the state of Rhode Island’s economy. The median income climbed by double digits but the state still has the highest poverty rate in the region.
While Rhode Island’s median household income climbed 14 percent from 2011 to 2012, the state remained stuck with the highest poverty rate in New England. Thirteen-point-six percent of all residents are living below the federal poverty level. Second is Maine at 12.8 percent.
Rhode Island has a poverty rate of 14%, according to a scorecard from the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a national think-tank.
The Economic Progress Institute of Rhode Island holds its annual policy conference Thursday to tackle the complex issue of poverty in the Ocean State. Rhode Island Public Radio's Elisabeth Harrison sits down with that organization’s executive director, Kate Brewster.
The business community is applauding a proposed cut in Rhode Island’s corporate tax rate.
In his latest budget, Governor Lincoln Chafee calls for cutting the corporate tax from 9 to 7 percent over three years.
Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce head Laurie White calls that a smart move. “It would be a welcome change. It’s not a game-changer. There are lots of factors that contribute to positive business climate rankings and profile, but this is certainly a welcome step.”
Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed is supporting a bill that would increase the federal minimum wage over the next three years.
The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25. The so-called “Federal Wage Act” would increase that wage by 95 cents annually until it reaches $10.10 by 2015.
However the buying power of minimum wage has decreased significantly, and the new boost may not be enough in Rhode Island, says Kate Brewster, the executive director of The Economic Progress Institute.