Updated March 24 at 6:27pm
economic development

R.I. ranks 23rd in U.S. for competitiveness


BOSTON – Rhode Island was awarded a No. 23 ranking in the nation in the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University’s 2012 State Competitiveness Report Thursday, helped by a No. 5 ranking for technology and a No. 7 ranking for security.

The BHI index is based on a set of 43 indicators divided into eight sub-categories: business incubation, environmental policy, government and fiscal policy, human resources, infrastructure, openness, security and technology.

“The breadth of the BHI index distinguishes it from more narrowly-focused measures of competitiveness that target only taxes, high tech or economic freedom,” said a BHI release. The first edition of the report was published in 2001.

Overall, the Ocean State scored a 5.11 on the Beacon Hill index, earning it the No. 23 seat. Comparatively, neighboring Massachusetts, which earned the No. 1 spot for the second consecutive year, had an overall score of 7.77. Mississippi, which scored worst, earned an index score of 3.11.

Rhode Island’s spot slipped slightly from the 2011 survey, when it earned the No. 19 spot, but is still above its lowest rankings, which took place in 2008 and 2005 with No. 31 rankings.

While Rhode Island scored well in technology (No. 5), security (No. 7) and openness (No. 13), but the Ocean State’s rank was weighed down by poor scores in infrastructure (No. 36), business incubation (No. 37) and government and fiscal policy (No. 44). The state earned the No. 31 slot for environmental policy and the No. 24 spot for human resources.

Rhode Island’s government and fiscal policy ranking, the sixth lowest in the country, was strongly affected by: state and local taxes per capita/income per capita, which had a rank of No. 45, and average weekly payment to insured unemployed, which had a rank of No. 48.

Also under the government and fiscal policy sub-index were budget deficit and full-time state equivalent and local government employees per 100 residents, with Rhode Island ranking well, at No. 12 and No. 7, respectively.

The state’s technology sub-index had no competitive disadvantages, according to the report. The state scored well in categories including: National Institute of Health support to institutions per capita (No. 3), science and engineering degrees awarded per 100,000 inhabitants (No. 5) and academic science and engineering R&D per $1,000 gross state product, (No. 6).

Overall, Rhode Island ranked in the top five nationally for: murder index (No. 2), integrity index (No. 2), NIH support (No. 3), rate of active physicians per 100,000 inhabitants (No. 4), overall technology score (No. 5), science and engineering degrees per 100,000 inhabitants (No. 5), and total deposits in commercial banks and savings institutions, per capita (No. 5).

Conversely, Rhode Island ranked in the bottom five nationally for: carbon emissions per 1,000 square miles (No. 49), non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (No. 48) and average weekly payment to insured unemployed (No. 48).

This year, Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia were ranked the least competitive, earning the bottom three spots, respectively. Massachusetts, North Dakota and Minnesota earned the top three spots on the BHI index.

Of the six New England states, the order on the list was as follows: Massachusetts (No. 1), New Hampshire (No. 12), Vermont (No. 19), Rhode Island (No. 23), Maine (No. 30) and Connecticut (No. 31).

To view the full report, visit: www.beaconhill.org.


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