The Flush Heard ‘Round the World
As some of you have already noticed, The Economist is the latest broad-circulation publication to offer a summary of Rhode Island’s economic woes. The attractiveness to writers is easy to see; a mere list of gloomy facts and figures can fill an entire article.
Today almost no homes, opulent or otherwise, are being built in Rhode Island. Only 16 permits for single-family dwellings were issued in February in the whole state. In March 633 homes were in foreclosure. The job front looks even worse. Last September Rhode Island had the highest unemployment rate in the country, exceeding even Michigan. In March the rate was the sixth-highest in the country, 10.5%, compared with 8.5% nationally.
Almost every sector has been affected. Jobs are so scarce that 200 people turned up recently at a job fair hosted by Foxy Lady, a Providence strip club. But the current misery comes on top of long-term decline. The state’s once thriving manufacturing industry has been fading for decades, with production slowing and working hours cut. Manufacturing lay-offs were persistent, even during good times; and good times have not been seen in the state for almost two years. Rhode Island entered the recession six months before the rest of the country.
And on and on. One can’t help but think of state Rep. Elizabeth Dennigan’s suggestion that Rhode Islanders have to stop complaining about the state’s current circumstances (audio at the twelfth bullet point here). Too many who live in the state may choose to look away from the problems, but apparently, the rest of the world is keenly interested.