RI KPI Briefing: Strong Growth in Jobs and Labor Force Participation in Q1 2024

PROVIDENCE, RI – Rhode Island’s economy experienced positive results across most key economic indicators in Q1 2024, according to the Rhode Island Key Performance Indicators (KPI) Briefing, released today. Prepared by The Center for Global and Regional Economic Studies at Bryant University and the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC), the Briefing shows that the Ocean State saw particularly strong growth in Rhode Island-based jobs (non-farm employment), which increased by 5,700 over Q4 2023 (1.1 percent), and in its labor force participation rate, which jumped from 63.7 percent to 64.2 percent quarter-over-quarter. While Rhode Island’s unemployment rate increased to 3.9 percent in Q1 2024—the third straight quarter of increase after reaching the historically low level of 2.6 percent in Q2 2023—this increase is tied to the growth in labor force participation, which reached its highest level since this metric was first recorded in 1976.

“The first quarter data are very positive—we have not seen results this strong for some time,” said Michael DiBiase, President and CEO of RIPEC. “We saw growth across several key metrics, including both the number of Rhode Island-based jobs and the number of employed Rhode Islanders. At the beginning of the pandemic, the gap between these two measures widened substantially, but with particularly strong growth in Rhode Island-based jobs this quarter, that gap has finally narrowed to below pre-pandemic levels. As of Q4 2023, we also now have more working Rhode Islanders and more jobs based in Rhode Island than we did before the pandemic.”

Five of nine major industry sectors in Rhode Island experienced employment increases in Q1 2024, with the largest gains in professional and business services (2,300 jobs, 3.3 percent increase) and education and health services—the state’s largest industry sector (2,300 jobs, 2.1 percent increase). There was a combined decrease of 700 jobs across the four major industry sectors that saw employment decreases in Q1.

Historically, Rhode Island GDP growth has lagged the nation and region. However, in Q1 2023 Rhode Island GDP increased by 3.5 percent (annualized), somewhat greater than both the U.S. and New England (3.4 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively). GDP data from Q1 2024 are not yet available.

Net sales tax receipts, an indicator of aggregate demand, decreased 1.5 percent (seasonally adjusted) quarter-over-quarter but increased by 3.9 percent year-over-year in Q1 2024.

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

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