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By Emily Greenhalgh
PBN Web Editor
BOSTON – In order to turn around the economy, Rhode Island must reduce the overall cost of doing business, change public perception about the unfriendliness of its business climate and face the mismatch of talent with job needs, according to a report from the New England Economic Partnership.
Through April, Rhode Island continued to have the second-highest unemployment rate in the U.S. and the highest in New England.
The Ocean State’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April was 11.2 percent. A double-digit unemployment rate is forecast for Rhode Island in 2012 and 2013.
According to a report from NEEP’s spring conference “Skills and People Matching: Where are the Jobs,” which was held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston on Thursday, Rhode Island has lost 33,100 jobs since 2006.
“Employers are looking for skilled and semi-skilled workers, especially for jobs in information technology, health care, science and technology,” said the report.
Job sectors that employ workers with post-secondary education are growing faster than other sectors, according the report, but there are job opportunities in trades where baby boomers are retiring.
“One of the mismatches causing the high unemployment rate has been jobs where there were few in-state applicants with the required skills,” said the report. “Workers who lost their jobs at the beginning of the recession in 2007 may not be qualified to fill job openings in 2012.”
In 2011, 40.8 percent of Rhode Islanders 25 or older had an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree. Comparatively, just less than 50 percent of that demographic had the same qualifications in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire.
“This puts Rhode Island in a disadvantaged competitive position in the region in terms of labor-force qualifications,” said the report.