RI economy

Aaron Read

Rhode Island’s unemployment rate  inched down to 5.9 percent in June, the lowest level since 2007, the state Department of Labor and Training has announced.

The rate has dropped 1.8 percentage points since June, 2014, when it was 7.7 percent.  The level in May was 6.0 percent. Rhode Island’s jobless rate is still above the national average, which was 5.3 percent in June, six-tenths of a percent lower than in the Ocean State.

In a statement, Gov. Gina Raimondo lamented that Rhode Island is not recovering from the recession as fast as the rest of the country.

RIPR FILE

So Twin River’s parent company wants to build a new casino in Tiverton.   The idea is likely to raise a few eyebrows, but RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it  has to be done.

There are many Rhode Islanders who don’t believe that state government should be in the business of promoting gambling. Those critics point out the lottery games and slot-machine emporiums that speckle New England like daffodils these days are little more than cheap taxes on the poor.

The last budget crafted by former Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s administration and the General Assembly seems to be holding up fairly well, according to the latest revenue assessment by the Rhode Island  Department of Revenue.

The official state bean-counters say that adjusted total general revenues are up about $61 million more than expected in the current budget year, which ends on June 30. This is good news for a state that has been slowly emerging from the recession.

The 2.6 percent increase in revenues is fueled by increases in the personal income tax and the corporate tax.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Rhode Island’s foundering economic is again the top Statehouse topic. Political analyst Scott MacKay has some thoughts as we at Rhode Island Public Radio kickoff our series on our state’s slow recession recovery. 

If Rhode Island was a lake, we’d all be drowning under the weight of decades of reports and high falutin  expert commissions charged with dissecting our state’s economic doldrums. Wonks, business leaders, academics and consultants have produced turgid chronicles – with scant results – on how to heal the sickest economy in New England.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo is meeting with Rhode Island business leaders as she shapes her new administration. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay hopes the business hierarchy steps up to help her.

Raimondo is taking over a state government that is much better off than the one Gov. Lincoln Chafee inherited from Don Carcieri four years ago. Unemployment was 11.4 percent; now it’s at 7.4 percent. The state budget deficit is much lower and cities and towns are not hovering over bankruptcy. Even Central Falls is out of receivership.

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