Stop the Bleeding
Almost as if it’s a coordinated emphasis on ignorance, the criticisms of my op-ed have done two things: 1) doggedly held to 2005 data, and 2) insisted that I haven’t proven causation. The argument is that people aren’t leaving, and there could be other explanations for their flight. Well, contradictions happen.
The reality is that I’m less concerned with the “why” than the “what now,” and whether they’re being crushed by taxes — which I consider to be more one of several underlying causes than a decisive and proximate one — or can’t find housing or a job, this sort of trend, from a story in today’s business section, is entirely in keeping with my argument and has to be arrested:
The state unemployment rate climbed two-tenths of a percentage point to 6.1 percent, a full percentage point higher than the national average rate of 5.1 percent, according to the state Department of Labor and Training.
Meanwhile, neighboring Massachusetts reported a 2,900-job gain, and its unemployment rate edged down to 4.4 percent. …
The professional and business-service sector, which includes temporary help agencies, declined nationally and in Rhode Island, but added jobs in Massachusetts. The sector is closely watched by economists because temporary employees are considered to be a predictor of which way the economy is headed. Jobs there tend to rise when the economy is growing, and shrink when it is contracting.
Last month, Massachusetts reported that the sector added 1,000 jobs, following a 3,100-job gain in February. By contrast, Rhode Island’s professional and business-services sector during the last three months has shed 1,600 jobs. (Nationally, the sector lost 35,000 jobs.)
We have to make Rhode Island more attractive to those who don’t need or want public assistance. Otherwise, we won’t be able to help anybody. And we have to close our ears to the melodious sound of Rhode Island’s undertakers whistling past the graveyard.