PROVIDENCE, RI –While Rhode Island’s unemployment rate hit its lowest point in 35 years, our local economy experienced mixed results across key economic indicators, according to the Rhode Island Key Performance Indicators (KPI) Briefing for the second 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 non-farm employment (Rhode Island-based jobs) fell for the second straight quarter, and six of the state’s nine major industry sectors lost jobs. On the positive side, the state’s labor force participation rate grew, the number of employed Rhode Islanders increased, and net sales tax receipts, an indicator of demand in the economy, experienced a 4.1 percent increase (seasonally adjusted).
“The data this quarter emphasize an important economic trend in Rhode Island: the growing divergence between the number of employed Rhode Islanders and Rhode Island-based jobs,” said Michael DiBiase, President and CEO of RIPEC. “There were about 48,000 more employed Rhode Islanders than there were Rhode Island-based jobs before the pandemic, but that difference shot up to about 60,000 at the beginning of the pandemic (Q2 2020) and stood at 61,400 in this most recent quarter. It is encouraging that the number of employed Rhode Islanders have recently grown to surpass pre-pandemic levels, but we have only recovered 88.0 percent of Rhode Island-based jobs lost during the pandemic, suggesting some vulnerability in the state’s economy, particularly given that New England and the U.S. have regained all lost jobs.”
Rhode Island non-farm employment was down quarter-over-quarter by 700 jobs and year-over-year by 5,100 jobs, with the state having 10,700 fewer Rhode Island-based jobs than before the pandemic. In contrast, the New England region and the U.S. both experienced non-farm employment growth in Q3 2023. Only three of Rhode Island’s nine major industry sectors gained jobs in Q3—construction, manufacturing, and education and health services—and only two have higher employment levels than before the pandemic: construction and manufacturing.
The number of employed Rhode Islanders increased by 4,300 in Q3 2022, a growth rate of 0.8 percent that exceeds the growth experienced by New England (0.1 percent) and the United States (0.3 percent). Employment in Rhode Island is 0.5 percent greater than pre-pandemic levels, compared to 2.4 percent growth nationwide and a decrease of 1.5 percent in New England.
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis is currently updating the quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) data by state through the second quarter of 2023. Revised GDP numbers will be included in the next issue of the Briefing.
The data set used to create the Briefing is available here.