KPI Briefing for Q1 2023: Rhode Island Shows Strong Employment, but Economic Expansion Has Slowed

PROVIDENCE, RI – Rhode Island’s economy improved across most key economic measures in Q1 2023, but the rate of economic expansion has slowed, according to the Rhode Island Key Performance Indicators (KPI) Briefing for the first quarter of 2023, released today. The Briefing, completed by The Center for Global and Regional Economic Studies at Bryant University and the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC), found that Rhode Island-based jobs increased 0.5 percent, while the number of employed Rhode Islanders was essentially unchanged (increasing 0.1 percent) over Q4 2022. Net sales tax receipts, an indicator of demand in the economy, grew 0.2 percent (seasonally adjusted) over the last quarter of 2022.

“Rhode Island’s economy continues to move in a positive direction,” said RIPEC President and CEO Michael DiBiase. “Unlike the Great Recession, Rhode Island has recovered nearly all of its jobs lost during the pandemic. However, we are lagging in terms of economic growth compared to New England and the nation.”

While non-farm employment has overtaken pre-pandemic levels in the New England region and the U.S., Rhode Island has regained 94.6 percent of all Rhode Island-based jobs lost in the pandemic as of Q1 2023. Rhode Island also had particularly low levels of unemployed Rhode Islanders in Q1 (3.1 percent unemployment rate), but a dip in labor force participation has kept the number of employed Rhode Islanders lower than before the pandemic. Rhode Island’s labor force participation rate was steady from Q4 2022 to Q1 2023 (62.9 percent) and was lower than the New England region (64.1 percent), although slightly higher than the national rate (62.5 percent).

Over the last two decades, GDP growth in Rhode Island has been slower than in the region and nation, and in Q4 2022, Rhode Island’s GDP increased 0.4 percent (annualized), compared to GDP growth over two percent in the New England region and the U.S. (2.0 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively). GDP data from Q1 2023 are not yet available.

Rhode Island experienced a loss of 700 jobs altogether in four of nine major industry sectors in Q1 2023—manufacturing, information services, financial services, and education and health services. The construction sector experienced the largest employment gains this quarter, adding 1,600 jobs over Q4 2022, followed by professional and business services, which gained 1,000 jobs.

The data set used to create the Briefing is available here.

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