The pre-holiday slowdown is descending on the land, but there's still plenty of interesting stuff going on, naturally. So thanks for stopping by and feel free to send me a note at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org and to follow me on the twitters. Here we go.

Aaron Read / RIPR

Rhode Island’s unemployment rate edged down slightly in October to 7.4 percent.  It’s a number that has consistently dropped over the last 15 months.

October’s jobless rate is the lowest it’s been since April of 2008. But still the state lost 2600 jobs. The Department of Labor and Training finds Rhode Island’s 7.4 percent unemployment rate higher than the national rate of 5-point-8 percent but lower than the 9.4 percent jobless rate a year ago.

Despite national trends, Rhode Island’s economy may not be on the road to recovery.  That’s according to the latest numbers from URI economics professor Leonard Lardaro. 

Lardaro’s monthly numbers track the state’s economic progress based on a variety of factors, from benefit claims to employment. Rhode Island now stands with a neutral ranking of 50 on a 100 point scale, compared with 85 during the same time last year. Lardaro blames much of this on Rhode Island’s persistent unemployment which now hovers just below eight percent.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello emerged in March with a strong hold on what is commonly called the state's most powerful political office. Following the unveiling of a probe of former speaker Gordon Fox, Mattiello won a brief succession fight and pledged a stronger focus on jobs and the economy. Mattiello sat down last week to discuss his first few months as speaker and some of the top issues facing the state, including his choice for governor and Buddy Cianci's latest comeback attempt.


This month, the number of Rhode Islanders seeking help from a statewide network of food pantries has declined. It’s the first decline, says Rhode Island Community Food Bank spokeswoman Cindy Elder, since the beginning of the economic recession in 2008.

“It’s not quite a reason to rejoice because we’re still really at remarkable high levels of need for food assistance.”

Rhode Island will receive nearly $2 million in relief funds to help fishermen hit by sharp cuts in catch limits.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Providence tech startup Swipely, which has grown significantly since it was launched in 2009, says a new infusion of $20 million in venture capital funding will enable it to continue expanding a small spark of Silicon Valley in Rhode Island.

"The intent is to use those funds to continue to aggressively growing the team in all our areas, including our engineering team, our marketing and sales team, and other departments within the company," Swipely founder Angus Davis said during a news conference Thursday morning.

West Warwick Residents Approve Critical Budget

May 23, 2014
Wikimedia Commons

Residents of West Warwick have passed a town budget that scales back services and raises taxes as part of an effort to avoid a financial crisis.  The move is a early step for the town's path to fiscal stability.

The $86.3 million budget comes with plenty of concessions, including cuts in town programs, a 2.9 percent increase in property taxes, and reductions to public employee pensions. But town manager Frederick Presley said the concessions are necessary if West Warwick wants to avoid bankruptcy.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell unveiled Wednesday his plan for improving Rhode Island’s economy, as part of the first in what he said will be a series of forthcoming policy initiatives.

In broad strokes, Pell said if elected governor he would focus on improving the state's public schools, strengthening infrastructure, and leveraging Rhode Island's assets.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo says the state needs to streamline and modernize regulations to encourage entrepreneurs.

Speaking at Foolproof Brewing in Pawtucket, Raimondo cited the company as part of Rhode Island’s growing craft-brewing sector. But Raimondo says startups like Foolproof are succeeding in spite of excessive and antiquated regulations. She says entrepreneurs are sometimes left feeling like they’ve done something wrong after filling out government applications and permits.


A conservative-leaning think tank says Rhode Island spends more than 220 million dollars each year on what it calls non-essential state services.  The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity says cutting this spending would improve Rhode Island’s economy.


The House Labor Committee is slated to review a bill Tuesday that could increase the use of apprentices on state public works contracts. But critics say that mandating more work by apprentices could increase costs for municipal and state projects.

A union-backed bill sponsored by Providence Representative John Carnevale would require companies bidding on public projects worth more than $1 million to have an apprenticeship program. The legislation would apply only to contractors and subcontractors with five or more employees.

The Quonset Business Park welcomes ships carrying Honda vehicles to the Port of Davisville Monday. This is the first time Honda has shipped products to Rhode Island shores.  Quonset Development Corporation spokesman David Preston says he hopes the addition of Honda will help to build economic growth in Rhode Island.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss her plan meant to add manufacturing jobs; high-stakes testing; tax policy; the slow start to redeveloping former I-195 land; and other issues.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Angel Taveras on Tuesday unveiled a plan to help provide unemployed Rhode Islanders with the skills needed to find jobs. 

Taveras says even though tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders are out of work, Rhode Island lacks a comprehensive job training program. If elected governor, he says he’d implement an initiative so that unemployed residents obtain the right skills through CCRI to get hired.