August 17, 2012

Other States Need Much More Misery Before RI Has Company

Justin Katz

The unemployment rate for Rhode Island fell by one tenth of a percent to 10.8%, but total employment dropped by 80 people.  That's not even a "mixed picture," though.  The only reason the unemployment rate moved in a seemingly positive direction is that 471 more Rhode Islanders just gave up looking for work.

So if the unemployment rate is a positive sign, then the state's motto might as well be "We hope people leave faster than they lose their jobs."

About the best that can be said for the Ocean State is that every other state in the union lost more employment than it did, except Utah, which saw a slight gain.  That context is illustrated very well in an update to my chart showing labor force (employed plus looking for work) and employment for Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut as a percentage of each state's January 2007 labor force.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

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I would like to know how many in this state have gone on SSI or SSDI in the last year compared to say 5 or 10 years ago.
In those numbers you will find, methinks, the answer to the "decline" in unemployment.
Plus how many who have limped along unemployed or underemployed until they hit their 62nd birthday and immediately head to the SS office.
From schools who feed kids breakfast, lunch and take home suppers to endless and unlimited student loans, to 27 year old "kids" on their mommy's insurance policy, the hordes of beggars crowding every major intersection and the droves of people in their 30's to 50's faking disability we have become a nation of parasites.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at August 17, 2012 8:09 PM

SSDI enrollment has more than doubled nationally in both absolute and percentage terms since 1999, mostly for "anxiety" and "musculoskeletal" disorders, despite the fact that, by all measures, the population has become healthier and work is less physically strenuous. I'm sure SSDI enrollment is significantly higher than average in Rhode Island, given its extremely high unemployment rate and dependency culture. I'm ashamed to say that I have a (Rhode Island) family member who is capable of working but instead has decided to go on SSDI indefinitely. Most of the very generous SSDI payments he receives end up in Florida casinos.

Posted by: Dan at August 17, 2012 10:52 PM

Progressives, of course, would prefer to simply bury their heads in the sand and pretend that SSDI fraud isn't occurring on a massive scale, but the numbers all indicate otherwise.

Expect to see an article on RIFuture in the next couple of days lauding Rhode Island's falling unemployment rate.

Posted by: Dan at August 17, 2012 11:00 PM

I have trouble condemning people simply because they can count.

I am thinking of a guy I had helping me rebuild my barn. He had formerly been a toolmaker (a highly skilled field), he was "retired" when his company moved to China. He had previously made $34.00 per hour, and could only find employment at $12.00. He took SS at 62.

I also wonder at the distortions. He was highly skilled at $34.00 per hour, while union "order pickers"
at the Chrysler warehouse in Mansfield MA made $38.00 driving electric carts around the warehouse taking parts out of bins. Since Chrysler folded, that job pays $16.00. I understand they are highly sought after.

If manufacturing is ever to return, we will need toolmakers. In another generation there will be no one left who knows a sine plate from a hole in the ground.

I notice that Gerstner tool box production has been moved to China to enable them to produce a "low line". I now see the "high line" being sold as jewelry boxes. I wonder if the housewives know that the mirror in the lid is for taking metal out of your eye. It is some how sad to see "icons" passing away. I don't see "tourism" taking up the slack. I just watched the Gerstner video YouTube, I note the paint on the brick walls is peeling.

I wonder if Brown & Sharpe is still technically "on strike". I picked up a B&S rule the other day, it read "Made in Switzerland".

Posted by: Warrington Faust at August 18, 2012 12:42 AM


Machinists are in demand even in Rhode Island but we no longer produce them. We're too busy sending our kids off to college for useless studies from which they will never earn a dime but incur ridiculous debt.

Posted by: Max D at August 18, 2012 10:39 PM

You can make decent money as a machinist, but you actually have to know calculus for many of the multi-axis machine calibrations necessary. The problem is that most people who know calculus can make even better money doing something else. But why bother in the first place when you can drop out of high school at 16, get a GED, and make over $100k as a police officer or fireman?

Inflammatory presentation of the issue, I admit, but push the emotional element aside and the undeniable facts remain. There is a real incentives problem. It's no coincidence that 3,000 people applied when spots recently opened in the Providence Fire Department.

Posted by: Dan at August 18, 2012 11:38 PM

I just watched a bit of the Gerstner video again.

I notice that most of the workers are in their 20's, or early 30's. Since the company is 100 years old, I wonder what happens to older workers. Some knowledge of the woodworking industry tells me that they should be making $20-22.00 dollars an hour. Still, it is "guy work" which does not involve cubicles.

THe toolboxes sell for about $750.00, the Chinese line "Gerstner International" for about 1/2 that. It could be argued that they are "buggy whips". They have become "collectible" and Gerstner charges $50.00 to "date" your box (within ten years).

I also notice from the age of the plant, and equipment, that there has been little re-investment. Perhaps the end is on the horizon.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at August 19, 2012 9:21 AM

I'm curious about how many people are enrolled in Safety Net programs as well as getting help from their parents.

I'm astounded by the number of peers I have who are no longer working, choosing instead to 'get by' on various combinations of monthly checks from parents, SNAP, unemployment, and SSDI.

The BLS ought to do a poll of people aged 18-35 and ask how many get help from their parents, and call people 55-80 and ask if they are sending their kids money. The number ought to form an index that's reported.

I'm guessing that once the boomer generation is no longer able to support their kids, a lot of long-term non-employed young-ish folks are going to be high-and-dry.

Posted by: mangeek at August 19, 2012 9:50 AM

While we're on the topic, has anyone looked into whether certain full-time political bloggers in the state are simultaneously collecting unemployment benefits? I believe it is also a requirement of unemployment programs that one actively looks for work. I am not referencing any particular individual or individuals with this open-ended inquiry.

Posted by: Dan at August 19, 2012 10:38 AM

Posted by Dan:

"But why bother in the first place when you can drop out of high school at 16, get a GED, and make over $100k as a police officer or fireman? "

"Inflammatory presentation of the issue, I admit"

You ovrlook the "military preference", without which it is almost impossible to get on the police or fire departments. I believe the military now requires a high school education. I suppose a GED would do.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at August 19, 2012 4:52 PM

Dan & Warrington,

The reality in today's law enforcement, at least in Rhode Island, is that the majority of new recruits are starting out with some college if not a degree. Yes, there are still the political hires and even some of those with college are political hires. Additionally, while the ads may say military preferred, the reality is they're only a small percentage of applicants and many times get bumped if they don't have any college. Smithfield is the outlier with it's four year degree requirement. Remember, according to state law, the cities and towns are required to pay for that education so that may play a role in some communities.

Posted by: Max D at August 20, 2012 7:56 AM

Political and nepotistic hires are a problem in any government organization (considered a "feature" in many), so the fire and police departments aren't alone there and shouldn't feel too embarrassed. Federal agencies also give preference to veterans due to heavy political pressure.

Even if the new hires are coming in with "some college," I think there is still a huge image problem based on the last 20-30 years of hiring practice, which has in turn led to problematic incentives for the state workforce. When high school grads are making over $100k, earning great benefits, and disability-retiring at 45-50, word gets out and then everybody who wants a nice life with two houses and a boat is going to aspire to be a police officer or fireman instead of seeking out other forms of work that the economy needs. It's similar to how many troubled young people aspire to being sports stars instead of working to be doctors, teachers, mechanics, or engineers. As a practical matter, we need some people to fill these glamorous high-profile roles, but not millions of people.

Posted by: Dan at August 20, 2012 9:53 AM

"You overlook the "military preference", without which it is almost impossible to get on the police or fire departments."

You seriously think the sleazy [snip] hacks that have controlled the corrupt kleptocracies that are the PFD and PPD for over a century almost all are ex-military?
Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha ,Ha.....Jokes on you baby.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at August 20, 2012 1:52 PM
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