Exodus Means Less Reason to Stay

Seasonality is likely a factor, but I’d been intending to offer the anecdotal testimony that the help wanted sections of various local and state papers are more sparse than I’ve ever seen them. Apparently, it isn’t just my impression:

Job vacancies in Rhode Island declined from 10,949 in spring 2006 to 8,637 last summer, a drop of 21.1 percent. It’s a trend that continues from 2005, when Rhode Island job vacancies numbered 12,114. Economic analysts said the drop in job vacancies indicates a slowdown in the Rhode Island economy. …
The median hourly wage for full-time occupations also dropped, from a range of $14 to $15 an hour last year to a range of $12.10 to $13.28 an hour this year. Murray said the drop is probably due to the decline in vacancies for some of the higher-paid job classifications, such as management or finance and insurance. …
“The figures on the surface indicate the need to grow Rhode Island’s economy much faster. We need to get existing Rhode Island companies to expand, and to lure other companies into the state,” [William B. Sweeney, professor emeritus of economics at Bryant University,] said. But Sweeney said the state deficit looms as “a long-standing problem” in creating a climate that will bring business to Rhode Island.
Edward M. Mazze, Distinguished University Professor of Business Administration at the University of Rhode Island, also said the job vacancy figures indicated bad news. “Rhode Island is going into its own recession,” he said. Mazze said there is a lack of confidence in the state’s economic future and that, generally speaking, the state’s economy is not creating new jobs.

More on it later, but news from the General Assembly doesn’t offer much encouragement that the legislators truly understand the problem and what needs to be done. Best case scenario — and I’m well beneath optimism, myself — is that the General Assembly puts on an ineffective show this year and the voters express enough disapproval in the fall to scare next year’s General Assembly into actually doing something.
Like I said, though, my optimism is decreasing more rapidly than Rhode Island’s median wage.

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Tom W
Tom W
16 years ago

Rhode Island has great potential, but no hope. A cumulative process has caused me to lose all optimism for Rhode Island. The final straws were last year’s legislative session and Buddy Cianci. Any informed, indeed any sentient human being has known for years that Rhode Island has been sliding down a precarious fiscal slope. During that last session, being fully aware of the $5 billion unfunded pension liability, the projections for ever increasing deficits, etc. etc. etc – the Democrat General Assembly exhausted the last of the tobacco money windfall; level funded local education aid while simultaneously handing Frank Williams $70 million for a courthouse; and at midnight passed a bill making it nigh impossible to reduce personnel expenditures via outsourcing. They can’t claim ignorance – this was a group willful disregard for fiscal sanity and the best interests of Rhode Island in the immediate, intermediate and long term. I’ve concluded that the Democrat General Assembly will never responsibly address the problems facing Rhode Island – problems created at their own hand – but will instead try to maintain the status quo for as long as possible (such as expanding the sales tax to services), even though it will increase the pain in the long run and probably lead to statewide fiscal and economic collapse. Certainly the savvier business owners / employers of this State, watching the same events unfold, have reached the same conclusion. Businesses don’t make a decision to relocate lightly, because of the expense and disruption; so there’s a certain “stickiness” to an established business base. But there comes a point where economic survival necessitates biting the bullet and moving. As more businesses move, the spiral begins and more conclude that instead of “not being able to afford to move” they “can’t afford to stay.” I have… Read more »

16 years ago

I couldn’t agree more, Tom. Last legislative session provided the General Assembly with a real opportunity to put the state on the right course.
Going into last year, Rhode Island’s bond ratings were strong and while the state’s decision to use short-term, stop gap measures in the past were fiscally questionable, they didn’t necessarily ensure economic doom.
But the decisions made last session essentially ensure that Rhode Island will suffer through hard times.
The unfunded penison liability problem was discussed. Legislation was introduced to begin migration to a 401(k) system, but failed.
A minority of legislators spoke out against the courthouse, but it still moved forward. And Tom, don’t believe for a second that the $71,000,000 the state has agreed to spend will be the end of it.
Carcieri warned about the long-term harm that would be done to RI if the tobacco funds were used once again, but the decision was made to use them anyway.
All of these were conscious decisions that were discussed before they were made. The result was predictable.
Now RI faces a contracting tax base, a reduction in revenue from Twin Rivers and Newport Grand and a vastly underfunded pension system just as the baby boomer generation begins to retire.
Combined with already high taxes and no other short-term fixes on the table, it would seem difficult to imagine that ANY actions taken in the upcoming session will be able to bring RI back from the fiscal abyss.
But I don’t feel too bad about it. Ultimately, the state’s condition is the responsibility of Rhode Island’s voters. You reap what you sow.

16 years ago

“Ultimately, the state’s condition is the ‘fault’ of Rhode Island’s voters.”
Ultimately, the state’s condition is the responsibility of the Rhode Island’s taxpayers. Like most of the US, probably only half the voters are income tax payers. And the Brewsterites want to make that tax more sharply progressive.
When I went to lunch today, I put on 630 and listened (for a short while) to the Felon and the nitwit known as Joe da Barber. The one helped Providence into its current dire straights and the other represents the majority of Democrat lemming voters who have assured the state’s being as bad off as its capital city.

16 years ago

It’s actually the voters that hold the responsibilty not the taxpayers, although virtually all voters are taxpayers (it’s difficult to avoid the sales tax).
You can always debate the virtues of universal suffrage, but it’s the reality.

16 years ago

Anthony – you are right (and I wouldn’t want less than universal suffrage), but according to Ben Franklin, the founding fathers (or at least old Ben) were worried about what would happen when a majority found they could vote themselves favors from the public treasury at the expense of the minority. The more progressive a tax system, the worse this prospect becomes. I suppose that a lot of folks who don’t pay income tax do pay the tax on stupidity – buying lottery tickets.

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