March 9, 2009

Joblessness Freefall

Justin Katz

We'd be remiss if we let this little item from the Projo's 7 to 7 blog (printed in Sunday's Business section) slip by:

Rhode Island's increase in unemployment was the worst in the nation last year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced today.

The jobless rate in Rhode Island rose last year by 2.6 percentage points, reaching 9.4 percent by the end of December. The closest competitors in the category were Florida (up 2.1 percentage points) and Nevada (up 2 percentage points).

The global recession has led to increases in unemployment across the country. But overall, the average increase in joblessness in the U.S. last year was 1.2 percentage points, less then half the spike in Rhode Island.

Although, Kevin Donovan from Foster suggests that the unemployment figures that we've all been seeing may represent a severe undercount:

I'm curious as to how this is measured. My assumption has been that it is based on unemployment-benefit claims. Given that the State of Rhode Island is between six and eight weeks behind in processing unemployment claims, it would stand to reason that our state's unemployment numbers are being underreported.

There were 57,800 job seekers in January, and the state's unemployment agency is strugging to keep up with the 25,000 calls it receives each week. I'm not sure how these numbers all fit together, but if our latest unemployment rate was 10.3% on paper, what do you suppose it is in actuality?

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Not to mention that RI and Michigan are the only two states losing population (and were doing so before the national recession), meaning that a lot of "unemployed Rhode Islanders" who left in search of jobs are now either employed elsewhere or counted as unemployed elsewhere.

Posted by: Tom W at March 9, 2009 1:35 PM

We've decided to take a positive approach and focus on our exit plan. I'm starting my research on Wyoming where Obama received the lowest percentage of votes in the general election. Their unemployment numbers are the lowest in the country. No income tax. No sales tax. A 10 year old house with 4 beds two full baths on 15 acres goes for about $220K. Property taxes are $1,200 a year. We'll be weighing other factors about Wyoming and some other "good" states before we make a decision. But there is really no other choice, we cannot stay here. With applogies to Ron White, you can't fix stupid.

Posted by: George at March 9, 2009 1:50 PM

Correction: Wyoming has a 4% sales tax. Still saves at least $200 on the new appliances.

But check this out fron the BLS:

Wyoming (+2.2
percent) reported the largest over-the-year percentage increase in em-
ployment, followed by Texas (+1.5 percent), Oklahoma (+1.0 percent),
Alaska (+0.9 percent), and South Dakota (+0.8 percent). The largest
over-the-year percentage decrease in employment was reported in Rhode
Island (-4.5 percent), followed by Arizona and Idaho (-4.3 percent each),
Michigan (-4.1 percent), and Indiana (-3.7 percent).

Not hard to predict which party has a majority in the legislatures of the aforementioned states.

Posted by: George at March 9, 2009 5:48 PM

"No income tax. No sales tax. A 10 year old house with 4 beds two full baths on 15 acres goes for about $220K. Property taxes are $1,200 a year"

Yeah, but do they have the lovely "diversity" of places like Providence, CF and Pawtucket?


Posted by: Mike at March 9, 2009 7:41 PM

George, if you could find a job in Idaho, you'd be in heaven. I have a brother-in-law who retired there, and he's having a great time. He could probably arrange you a ride on one of the black helicopters - he's into that sort of thing.

Posted by: rhody at March 9, 2009 10:32 PM

One of the indicators we're using is voter competance. Idaho was 36% for Obama (not too bad). But Wyoming gave him the lowest percentage at 33. Like I said, I'm considering many factors, but I want to get as far away from stupid voters as I possibly can.

Posted by: George at March 10, 2009 3:27 PM
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