January 27, 2011

One Anecdote of Many

Justin Katz

Sure, we hear counter-arguments all the time, around here, but Michael Miale of Johnston offers an evidential anecdote that certainly captures the impression of many:

[After listing close friends and family,] I then refined the list further into two categories: those who have left the state within the previous 12 months, which is 8, and those who are going to leave in the next 12 months, which is 3, totaling 11 family units leaving the state. That means 52 percent of my immediate family and close friends have left or are in the process of leaving the state of Rhode Island.

Those numbers cannot be refuted by anyone. They tell me all I need to know about the state of the state of Rhode Island.

What would be fascinating, although likely impossible, would be a broad sampling of these and opposing anecdotes in order to discern characteristic commonalities and differences between the "yes-flight" and "no-flight" observations. I'm sure Anchor Rising readers have their own speculations.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Rhode Island is 'gaining population' the same way my savings account is 'earning interest'.

Just look at our birth rate and compare it to our population growth... It's pretty obvious that people are leaving. The overall end result is a population growth rate that's not even 1/20th of one percent per year.

You might be saying 'well that's just fine and dandy, we probably shouldn't be adding too many people to such a dense state anyway, stability is good', but you'd be wrong there, too. Turns out that the people doing the most leaving are younger folks. Our population isn't 'stable' at all, it's rapidly 'graying', even in comparison to a rapidly graying nation. Without skilled, successful young people to take the places of the current workers, things don't look too optimistic.

Posted by: mangeek at January 27, 2011 4:14 PM

I might be wrong, since our death rate and our birth rate are so close... Maybe people aren't leaving... They're dying of frustration.

Posted by: mangeek at January 27, 2011 4:26 PM

All of the top students from my RI high school have since left the state. All of my intelligent, hard-working friends have left. I have left. My siblings have left. Parents remain, but work in MA. The dropouts and losers from my childhood remain, living off of state assistance. One is single and has 3 young children now according to facebook. I honestly don't know of anyone who came to RI for a better job. But Russ claims the state is gaining "knowledge workers," whatever that means, so everything must be okay.

Sit in on a RI jury selection sometime. What is your profession, Juror #1? "Graphic designer." Juror #2? "Graphic designer." Juror #3? "Graphic designer." Juror #4? "Unemployed." What were you before you were unemployed? "Graphic designer." Are these the "knowledge workers" you speak of, Russ?

Posted by: Dan at January 27, 2011 4:45 PM

I know more returning than leaving. They found in places like Florida, South Carolina and Texas that the grass is always greener - if you think Rhode Island has budget problems, have you checked out Texas, where the state is governed by big business?

Posted by: bella at January 27, 2011 4:48 PM

* Is NOT always greener.

Posted by: bella at January 27, 2011 4:49 PM

I'm one of the in-movers, as they say at the Census Bureau. After 30 years of sailing out of Bristol Harbor, wife and I retired here from Central MA.

RI problem is the dearth of new business formations, contrasted with MA, as I have been observing things since the 1970s.

I managed IT sales organizations, including MA and RI for many years. We never did much business in RI (example, only one Apple dealer in the state)

But, people here are very friendly and helpful, and Portsmouth is in the hands of the Republicans. As a retireee, no complaints.

Posted by: Bob at January 27, 2011 5:30 PM

Bella, I assume people coming here because 'the grass wasn't so green elsewhere' aren't making much money? They're retreating to Rhode Island?

Also, do I know you? Hang out at AS200, friends in theater?

Posted by: mangeek at January 27, 2011 5:52 PM


Welcome to RI. I met a family last year from Mass. who were vacationing in RI. We met on the Pawcatuck River where I was canoeing an overnight trip. They said they were in state for 2 weeks and doing day trips on the river, eating in a different resturant every night and enjoying themselves even though their teenage son didn't appear to be as enthused. As is the case with most residents I had never done this trip having reserved my vacation time for other places. Hearing their delight about their choice for vacation was notable given the negativity of many on this site. By the way there is a great campsite on the river. The late Ken Weber has a good description of the trip.

Posted by: Phil at January 27, 2011 5:54 PM

What's funny is the particular fixation of some with this kind of anecdotal "proof." The only thing surprising would be if a state this small and this dense were growing at the rate of some other states.

It makes as much sense to focus on that one stat as it does for me to draw a conclusion that RI must be the 2nd best state to live because we have the 2nd most people per square mile. #1 of course being New Jersey, where most of my friends especially those with degrees have moved out of state (currently #11 in the sci/tech index btw). Heck, even Justin left!

Oh and if you want to meet actual geeks, don't say no one ever invited you... providencegeeks.org

Posted by: Russ at January 27, 2011 6:01 PM

Mangeek, they're in different fields. Small business owner fared better here. Lawyer was downsized (by state of Texas). Publisher returned for family reasons. Salesman couldn't find work in Fla.
I've been to AS220 once.

Posted by: bella at January 27, 2011 8:51 PM

I can say with some certainty that the Navy undersea warfare center on Aquidneck Island has been bringing in lots of scientists and engineers (whom I would consider to be 'knowledge workers') from out of state for several years (along with hiring a big chunk of graduating engineers from URI and UMass-Dartmouth).

Of course, with all the attention now being given to the federal deficit and civil service rules, probably the first thing that will stop is hiring young entry level folks.

Posted by: David C at January 27, 2011 9:52 PM

Not "anecdotal". Review the census records and you will note that both RI and MA have been losing white population for about 20 years, despite population growth. This is not intended as racist,just consider who the "knowledge workers" are.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at January 27, 2011 10:20 PM

I am most likely classified as a “Geek” or “knowledge base worker” from working in the telecommunications, computer fields and electronic R&D for over 40 years in Rhode Island but when it came down to retirement Rhode Island is ranked as one of the 10 most tax unfriendly retiree states in the nation and Hawaii is ranked as one of the top 10 most tax friendly retiree states in the nation by www.Kiplinger.com. $300/year property tax, no vehicle or boat property tax, retirement income and social security exempted from state income tax, sales tax 4.5% and no winter heating bills or clothing is needed as temperatures are 80-81 and sunny daytime and 65-67 nighttime plus tourists pour over $10 billion into economy each year.

Posted by: Ken at January 27, 2011 11:44 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.