The headline at first glance seems like a contradiction: Job gains cast shadow on recovery. But the story is a complex one.
Put simply, while there are more jobs in the region, increasingly Rhode Islanders are not the ones filling the openings.
A glib response involves blaming the Ocean State’s education system for a growing “skills gap.” But there is more to the story than that.
• Rhode Island’s workforce is aging, making it less attractive to fill new jobs.
• High-income workers are leaving the state.
• The percentage of working-age people looking for employment stands at 59 percent in Rhode Island, below the national rate of 63 percent.
What then is there to do?
The state needs to continue its efforts to improve public education. But it also needs to enact policies that remove incentives for high-income individuals to leave the state and encourage the thousands who graduate from Ocean State colleges to stay.
In the end, these investments in human capital will turn the jobs story around. •
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