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.
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.”