File photo / RIPR

Our panel this week discusses RI's persistently high unemployment; Senator Dawson Hodgson's renewed call for an outside investigation into 38 Studios; Angel Taveras' proposal for instituting universal pre-K in Rhode Island; and Scott MacKay and Maureen Moakley's top turkeys of 2013.

Rhode Island's Unemployment Increasing

Sep 20, 2013

Rhode Island’s unemployment rate is headed in the wrong direction.

Rhode Island’s unemployment rate increased from 8.9 percent in July to 9.1 percent in August.  At the same time the national unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.3 percent.

The number of unemployed residents is 50,100 – up 800 from July. Over the year, however, the number of unemployed has fallen by about eight thousand.


Starting next month, extended unemployment benefits will drop from 73 weeks to 63 weeks. The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training said the cut comes thanks to lower unemployment numbers.

States with an average unemployment rate of 9 percent or higher can offer what’s called Tier 4 of federal unemployment benefits that lasts for ten weeks. But because Rhode Island’s June unemployment rate of 8.9 percent brought the state’s average down below the threshold, it can no longer offer those ten weeks of extra benefits.

The start of June has done nothing, naturally, to stop the breakneck flow of news in the Land of The Gift That Keeps on Giving. So welcome back to my weekly column. You can reach me at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) com, and (please) follow me on Twitter. Let's head in.

With state officials due to release their proposal Tuesday for curbing gun violence, Republican House lawmakers are inviting gun makers to relocate to Rhode Island in response to changes in Connecticut and Maryland. A legislative news release says the changes render those two states as "hostile territory":

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras unveiled a 20-point economic plan Wednesday morning during a meeting of the Providence Foundation. The mayor's repeated rhetorical emphasis -- how Providence has bounced back from the financial abyss thanks to collaboration and shared sacrifice -- sounded like one message he'll wield next year during an expected Democratic run for governor.

Mike Stenhouse, CEO of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, joins us on Bonus Q+A to talk about the center's mission, its proposal to eliminate the sales tax, its report card on Rhode Island's competitiveness, and other issues.

Welcome back to my weekly column. As always, your tips and thoughts are welcome at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org. Let's get to the list.

Woonsocket City Council President John Ward is concerned that jobs provided by CVS Caremark Corporation could vanish if the company loses a big chunk of a state tax credit.

"Based on their reaction, I'm a little concerned," Ward said, referring to how CVS lobbyist Robert Goldberg said the company may reconsider its ties to Rhode Island if it loses part of a job development tax credit worth about $15 million a year.

Saul Kaplan, head of the Business Innovation Factory, says Rhode Island has the necessary assets for a thriving economy. Part of the challenge, he says, is transforming the state's small size from an obstacle into a benefit.

State health workers are in demand. A job fair Thursday, sponsored by the state’s Department of Labor and Training and department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals, advertised 50 open positions.

Welcome back to my Friday column. Your thoughts and emails are welcome at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org. Let's get to it.

James Baumgartner

Gov. Lincoln Chafee joins Political Roundtable this week to talk about his budget, Rhode Island's economy,  and regional competition for a better tax climate. Also joining me in the discussion are RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay and guest panelist David Klepper from the Associated Press.


A report released Tuesday morning by the state Senate and the business-backed Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council uses a color-coded system to assess the state's performance on different economic indicators and recommends a series of steps for improvingits underperforming economy.