RIPEC Releases Population Volume in Rhode Island in Context Series

PROVIDENCE R.I. (October 2019): Today, the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council released the second of three volumes that comprise “Rhode Island in Context: Regional and Historic Trends,” 2019 Edition.

“Rhode Island in Context” provides summaries and analyses of the most current national, regional, and state data that measure the Ocean State’s population trends, economy, and government finance against national and regional averages over decades. 

“The second volume of Rhode Island in Context provides background and granular details on Rhode Island’s population trends,” said John Simmons, CEO and President of RIPEC. “With these data in hand, one can more effectively conduct state performance analyses and make appropriate policy decisions,” Simmons continued.

“Volume I: Government Finance” provided data and analyses related to government expenditures, revenues, taxes, caseloads, and economic forecasting.

“Volume II: Population” offers data and analyses related to Rhode Island’s historic and current population, in addition to future projections. It provides a population overview, as well as data revealing trends related to migration, income, health insurance, social assistance, and education. 

Finally, “Volume III: Economy” will lay out regional and historical data on the economy, covering economic indicators, employment, gross domestic product (GDP), trade, housing, energy, business climate, and research and development (R&D). 

Highlights in Volume II include:

Population Overview

  • Rhode Island’s population is aging, a trend that is expected to continue through 2030.
  • Between 2010 and 2018, Rhode Island experienced an average annual growth rate of 0.04 percent.


  • Between 2004 and 2011, the largest cohort of new Rhode Islanders came from populations outside of the United States (except 2009-2010), but between 2011 and 2016 foreign populations were not ranked in the top five places of origin, and the largest incoming populations came from Connecticut (in 2011-2012) and New York (between 2012 and 2016).
  • Rhode Island has seen a net outflow of migrants in the last ten years. Popular destinations of out-migration include Florida, Texas, and California.


  • In Rhode Island, income and wages are generally higher than national averages but lower than New England averages. 
  • On an adjusted basis, Rhode Island experienced a $261, or 0.4 percent, decrease in real median household income between 1998 and 2018 (from $62,527 to $62,266). However, Rhode Island saw a 29.4 percent increase in real per capita personal income over the same period (compared to a 33.8 percent increase in New England and a 26.8 percent increase in the nation).
  • While Hispanic/Latino households in the U.S. had a median income that was 18.6 percent lower than the national average in 2018, in Rhode Island the median income of this cohort was 46.5 percent below the state average.  

Health Insurance

  • Health insurance coverage expanded over the last five years. 95.2 percent of Rhode Island’s population under age 65 was covered in 2018, compared to a 94.9 percent coverage rate in New England and an 89.6 percent coverage rate in the United States. 

Social Assistance

  • Rhode Island’s average monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits grew at a higher rate than that of the nation but lower than that of New England. SNAP participation increased by 124.1 percent in Rhode Island between FY 2007 and FY 2016.
  • The number of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients in Rhode Island decreased by 49.2 percent between 2007 and 2018. 


  • The percentage of Rhode Island’s population over age 25 with a bachelor’s degree or higher was lower than that of New England and higher than that of the nation between 2005-2018. All three regions have seen growth in overall higher educational attainment (associate’s, bachelor’s, and graduate/professional degrees) in the same population over the last five years. 
  • Public higher education made up a smaller share of higher education enrollment in Rhode Island (49.6 percent) than nationally (73.7 percent) in 2017.
  • The cost of higher education in Rhode Island, regardless of the type of institution or length of term, exceed national costs between 2016 and 2018.
  • On the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Programs (NAEP), Rhode Island’s elementary and secondary math scores trailed both the U.S. and New England, while reading scores lead the nation and lagged New England.
  • In 2019, Rhode Island’s mean SAT score of 995 lagged the U.S. average of 1059 and the mean score of every other New England state.

Note: The original publication of “Rhode Island in Context” did not include 2019 SAT data because it was published prior to the release of those data.

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