Rhode Island’s lag in employment recovery shows leaders have to stop crushing our economy.
With Rhode Island’s elected officials’ piling on the burden of mandatory increases in the cost of labor for the next few years just when Rhode Island businesses most need flexibility, we should pay careful attention to findings like Adam McCann’s on WalletHub. McCann compared all states’ unemployment claim recovery and found Rhode Island to be second-worst for total recovery since the start of the COVID-19 crisis and dead last in the last week.
Last week’s unemployment claims were up (get this) 1,063% versus 2019 and even up 114% compared with the same week last year, right in the thick of the COVID downturn. Rhode Island and West Virginia were the only two states that hadn’t seen an improvement in that second category.
And notice that none of our elected officials are talking about it. Our journalists don’t seem all that concerned, either.
The situation is worse than it seems, by the way. Scroll down on the WalletHub page, and you’ll see a chart titled, “Coronavirus Has Wiped Out All the Job Gains Since the Great Recession.” Rhode Islanders should take special note, because we were one of the last states to recover our number of jobs after the Great Recession, and we never recovered full employment.
We’re understandably reluctant to look for dark clouds, just now, as the sun is coming out and the world is waking up from a long nightmare, but that in itself should be a signal. This should be a time of great energy and enthusiasm. Rhode Islanders may not have it, and to the extent we do, we can’t afford to let it go to waste. We should couple our emergence from lockdown with an emergence from the policies that have our state in seemingly inevitable decline.