It seems sometimes like every Rhode Island business and political leader points to the better economy in Massachusetts. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay looked across the state border and finds more myth than reality.

Rhode Island businesses say they're optimistic about the state's economy and their own prospects, though they're not yet confident enough to make major capital investments.

That's according to a new survey, as RIPR host Dave Fallon learns from Providence Business News' Mark Murphy in this week's Bottom Line.

A little more than a year ago, the Rhode Island Foundation gathered more than 300 people from across the community to brainstorm ways to boost the state’s sagging economy.

Cliff Walk Repairs On Hold As Bid Is Examined

Sep 24, 2013

Repairs to the Cliff Walk in Newport destroyed by Superstorm Sandy are on hold as the Department of Transportation is examining an unusually low bid that has been submitted.

The bid for repairs came at 3 million dollars; about 2 million less than most of the others.

The low amount raised eyebrows, said city official Robert Power, who was worried about the quality of the work.


Rhode Island’s politicians are talking about the economy again. Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay warns of a campaign cliché voters ought to view with skepticism

As predictable as the turning of autumn leaves, Rhode Island’s political campaigns will once again be filled with talk about creating jobs and jump-starting our stalled economy. Expect to hear the ancient Ocean State chestnut from the pols who’ll say, the biggest economic fear of Rhode Islanders is that their children can’t stay in our state because there aren’t enough jobs.

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.

URI Prof: Signs Show an Improving RI Economy

Sep 16, 2013

A University of Rhode Island economics professor who tracks the state’s economy every month finds it was in good shape for the month of July.

Professor Leonard Lardaro says nine of 12 indicators he tracks are in positive territory.  The only lagging indicators are government employment, the size of the labor force and new claims for unemployment.

Overall, Lardaro said we’re heading into the second half of the year in a fairly strong position.


The Rhode Island Division of Taxation held a drawing Tuesday to award just $35 million in state historic tax credits.  The General Assembly voted earlier this year to reopen the historic tax credit program.

The Division of Taxation used a drawing to pick who would get the tax credits since demand outstripped supply. State Tax Administrator David Sullivan says the recipients comprise a variety of projects expected to boost the economy.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

The owners of the Providence Arcade, the nation’s oldest indoor shopping mall, have announced some new tenants.  They include two restaurants and a women’s clothing boutique.

The largest restaurant space in the Arcade has been rented by an eatery called Rogue Island. It will specialize in local food and beer.  Also joining the Arcade business group is Livi’s Pockets a purveyor of fast Mediterranean food.

Rounding out the list of new tenants is a shop called Nude, which will feature the women’s clothing and handbags of six New England designers.

Bottom Line:

Aug 16, 2013

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for a weekly business segment we're calling "The Bottom Line." Each Friday they look at business news and themes that affect local business and the public.

This week Dave and Mark talk with Rhode Island Foundation President and CEO Neil Steinberg. They discuss the new campaign to market Rhode Island’s strengths; called “It’s All in Your Back Yard,” along with public reaction to the campaign.


Rhode Island’s jobless rate edged up slightly in July, from 8.8 percent to 8.9 percent.  It’s a source of frustration for state Labor Department officials who concede that at the current rate it will take several years for Rhode Island to get anywhere close to full employment.

Led by a sharp drop in the number of temporary jobs, Rhode Island’s jobless rate posted a one-tenth of one percent increase in July. Still, the 8.9 percent rate is 1.6 percent lower than a year ago.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

There's a commonly held misconception in Rhode Island that the jewelry industry is washed up, kaput, a victim of the ravaged manufacturing sector. But according to the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, we have the highest concentration of jobs in the jewelry industry in the United States. This morning as we continue our 'Made in Rhode Island' series, Rhode Island Public Radio's Flo Jonic delves into the jewelry industry through the eyes of three of its players:

file / RIPR

Rhode Island’s unemployment rate remained flat in June at 8.9 percent. Progress made in reducing the jobless rate in the first quarter of the year seems to have stalled.

The news was great in the first quarter of the year.  Rhode Island’s unemployment rate fell from 9.8 percent in January to 9.4 percent in February, to 9.1 percent in March.  In April, it fell to 8.8 percent. That’s about where it has remained ever since.

RI Unemployment Rate Drops to 8.8 Percent

May 16, 2013

Rhode Island’s unemployment rate took a healthy drop in April.  But the state is still a long way from restoring all the jobs lost to the recession.

Rhode Island’s April unemployment rate was 8.8 percent. That’s three tenths of one percent lower than in March and the lowest rate in four-and-a-half years.  Charles Fogarty, director of the state Department of Labor and Training, attributes the decline to increased consumer confidence.

Rhode Island Nonprofits Feel the Squeeze

Apr 16, 2013
Flo Jonic/RIPR

It’s hard to turn on the news these days without hearing about another nonprofit in financial trouble.  Advent House – the state’s first homeless shelter – is without a director because it can’t afford one. John Hope Settlement House is bleeding $30,000 a month. And the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence has laid off a third of its staff.