In its cash collections report for September, the DOR said that year-to-date, total general revenue was $883.4 million, compared with $857.4 million in the prior fiscal period.
Comparing September 2014 to September 2013, total general revenue increased 1.3 percent to $296.6 million from $292.9 million.
Included in the general revenue is personal income tax, sales and use tax, departmental receipts, lottery transfer and other general revenue sources.
DOR Director Rosemary Booth Gallogly said in a statement, "Year-to-date [fiscal] 2015 cash collections continue to show growth over the same period in [fiscal] 2014. Although the fiscal year- to-date growth in cash collections has slowed since August, I am pleased to see that the growth in sales and use tax cash collections remains solid."
Regarding monthly cash collections, Gallogly said that lottery transfer cash collections "exhibited positive year-over-year growth in September 2014, the first time the state has had positive year-over-year growth in this important revenue source since March of 2014."
Lottery transfer collections grew 1.8 percent from September 2013 to September 2014, to $34.2 million from $33.6 million.
The full cash collections report can be viewed at www.dor.ri.gov.]]>
According to its website, www.starchefs.com is a magazine for culinary insiders that generates original content globally using in-person tastings and interviews.
Mixologist Jay Carr of The Eddy will provide samples of his "Orange Julius Caesar" at the Congress' cocktail event on Oct. 27, while the four chefs will be preparing samples of special dishes. Chefs are Melissa Denmark of Gracie's and Ellie's Bakery; James Mark of North; Jake Rojas of Tallulah's Taqueria; and Derek Wagner of Nick's on Broadway.
Mark also will participate in a panel discussion on "The New Chef and a Call to Community."
"One of the major reasons we were just voted 'America's Favorite City' in Travel + Leisure's recent poll, is because of the strength of our culinary offerings," said Martha Sheridan, president and CEO of the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau. "We are proud to have such excellent representation of our city and are thankful to our delegation for giving up their time to come with us to New York."
The visitors bureau, which is coordinating the trip, is a nonprofit with a mission to help expand the local hospitality economy. For information, contact (401) 456-0200 or visit www.GoProvidence.com.]]>
The groups pointed to data released in September by the U.S. Census Bureau showing that "poverty remains stubbornly and unacceptably high" with "too many Americans are struggling to find a job, pay their rent and feed their families."
"We are clearly not doing enough as a country to make progress on reducing poverty. Our safety net programs are effective in keeping millions of people out of poverty and in keeping many from becoming more deeply poor. But they do not reach everyone in poverty, and recent cuts to these programs have left them less able to help the number of people who need it. Further automatic funding cuts or wrongheaded budget proposals, as well as plans that claim to fight poverty by turning social service programs into block grants, would actually increase poverty and only make the situation worse," they wrote in a press release.
Census Bureau data released last month showed that in Rhode Island, 14.3 percent of people were poor in 2013 - an increase from 2009 when 11.5 percent were poor. That means living on an income of less than $23,834 for a family of four. Nationwide, 15.8 percent of people were poor.
In Rhode Island and also nationwide, one out of four people who have not finished high school is poor.
In Rhode Island, more than one out of five children overall, as well as more than one out of three African American children and one out of two Hispanic children, are growing up in poverty.
Previous studies have shown that children who grow up poor are more likely to suffer from poor health, developmental delays, behavioral problems and lower academic achievement. They are also more likely to be unemployed as adults.
Other findings for Rhode Island:
42.9 percent of tenants are paying 35 percent or more of their income on rent, similar to national rates
In states that implemented the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion, as Rhode Island did, the uninsured rate dropped 37.7 percent. In Rhode Island, 120,460 people remained uninsured in 2013
The groups cited problems such as 2013 federal sequester cuts, which resulted in 450 fewer children in Head Start, as well as $339,000 in cuts to the Child Care and Development Block Grant and $2.2 million in cuts to Special Education Grants in Rhode Island alone.
Additionally, sequestration cuts caused the loss of 70,000 housing vouchers in 2013, which left 386 fewer households in Rhode Island with this assistance, the release stated.]]>
The rating outlook is stable, and reflects a small market airport that has experienced weakening traffic in recent years due to competition in the greater New England air trade service area, according to Fitch, a trend that easily could continue.
T.F. Green Airport is predominantly served by low-cost carriers and maintains a higher than average cost per enplanement level, which is expected to be $12.50 in fiscal 2015, Fitch said. In addition, the rating also reflects RIAC's relatively high leverage ratio, expected to increase to approximately 7.5x net debt-to-cash flow available for debt service in fiscal 2015.
Leverage and cost per enplanement level are both considered elevated for an airport of its size and market position.
Fitch said the airport also is "vulnerable to a competitive New England airport environment that has contributed to nine consecutive years of enplanements declines." Concentration risk exists with Southwest Airlines Co. (rated "BBB" with a positive outlook by Fitch), representing 46 percent of enplanements in fiscal 2014, it said.
Infrastructure development and renewal was given a "midrange" outlook, as the airport's $283 million capital improvement plan is expected to be funded with a combination of grants, new debt and passenger facility charge revenues. The airport expects to issue approximately $32 million in debt in fiscal 2015 for a runway extension project.
Fitch listed the following issues at Greene as negatives:
Annual traffic levels falling below the 1.7 million to 1.8 million enplanement range are likely to place greater pressure on airline costs and would lead to the consideration of a rating downgrade
Higher than anticipated debt issuance that materially increases leverage while diluting debt service coverage
While coverage levels are expected to narrow with the planned bond issue, cash flow coverage levels falling under the 1.2x level would likely lead to a lower rating
Fitch said the airport's "traffic profile and size, coupled with vulnerabilities to economic conditions or competition, currently restrict a higher rating at this time."
It said RIAC's operational performance remains stable despite continued weakness in traffic levels. Enplanements in fiscal 2014 held steady, falling only 0.4 percent, after a 3.2 percent decline in fiscal 2013. Enplanements in the first three months of fiscal 2015, however, are an additional 5.3 percent less than a year earlier. Fiscal 2014 operating revenue increased 2.4 percent from fiscal 2013, led by an increase in non-aviation revenue of 2.8 percent.
The college released an interactive salary comparison tool that allows users to plug in occupations and discover which states pay the most - or the least - for certain professions. The graph shows average salary, and also average salaries adjusted for cost of living.
Rhode Island's teachers, according to the survey, are paid an average of $69,420, and $70,334 when salary is adjusted for cost of living. Idaho ranks at the bottom for $19,120 and $20,427, respectively.
Surgeons make the most in Kansas at $277,820 when adjusting for cost of living. That compares with $245,420 in Rhode Island.
The top state for lawyers is Delaware with an average adjusted salary at $133,861, comparing with $87,305 in Rhode Island.
Police average $37,000 in Rhode Island; Washington D.C. pays the most at approximately $54,000 when adjusting for cost of living, and Florida the least, at $31,000.
Retail workers fare best in North Dakota at a nearly $25,000 adjusted salary, compared with Rhode Island's $22,806 and the worst paying state, Maryland, at $18,410.
As for all occupations, Washington D.C., workers earn the most before and after salaries are adjusted for cost of living, $63,680 and $53,875. Rhode Island ranks 11th for highest average salary at $37,500 and 9th when salary is adjusted for cost of living at $37,994. Mississippi ranked lowest for average salary at $28,240, and Florida, lowest when salary is adjusted for cost of living, at $31,032.
View the graph HERE.]]>
The department has been working with a consultant, RIPTA and key stakeholders to identify potential alternative stop locations for the 10 RIPTA routes that begin and end at the 175 Main St. location.
The public is invited to attend the City of Pawtucket Hub Relocation Study meeting on Oct. 28 at 6 p.m. in the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center Theater at 175 Main St.]]>
The report, from the Virginia-based American Transportation Research Institute, the trucking industry's nonprofit research organization, ranked Rhode Island No. 4 on the list, behind first-place Maryland, second-place Washington and third-place Nevada. Rounding out the top 10 were Montana, Connecticut, New Mexico, California, South Dakota and Iowa.
According to the association, the analysis highlights "best practices" of leading safety innovators in the enforcement community.
"These 10 states epitomize what we would like to see in all 50 states in terms of commercial motor vehicle enforcement - a balanced approach that recognizes the importance of traffic enforcement and a focus on driver behaviors that have a relationship to truck crashes," Annette Sandberg, a member of the ATRI board of directors, said in a statement.
"The industry applauds these state enforcement agencies who, in partnership with their respective state trucking associations and members, have made highway safety and reduced truck crashes their top priority," Bill Graves, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, said in a statement.]]>
Rhode Island's rate was 3.53 percent for mortgages delinquent by 90 days or more, higher than August's rate of 3.49 percent.
Mississippi ranked first with 5.34 percent; Alabama, second with 3.6 percent; Louisiana, fourth with 3.52 percent; and Massachusetts, fifth with 3.26 percent.
Black Knight Financial Services' data showed that nationally, delinquent inventory declined by 117,000 in September, nearly reversing an August increase of 146,000.
The total U.S. loan delinquency rate - loans that are 30 or more days past due, but not in foreclosure - increased 5.67 percent in September, lower than August's rate of 5.9 percent, which had been the highest since February.
Black Knight also said that serious delinquency, which represents mortgages that are 90 or more days past due, is at the lowest since August 2008, with 1.1 million properties nationally in that category, a drop of 213,000 from a year ago.
Foreclosure inventory fell by more than 400,000 nationally in September compared with last year, Black Knight said.
Black Knight's data represents mortgage statistics from its loan-level database - approximately two-thirds of the overall market.]]>
Sales rose 0.2 percent to a 467,000 annualized pace from a 466,000 rate in August that was 7.5 percent weaker than previously estimated, Commerce Department data showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 75 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for the pace to decelerate to 470,000.
Home sales are struggling to accelerate further as restrictive lending rules and wage gains that barely keep pace with inflation prevent lower-income buyers from stepping into the market. The recent drop in mortgage rates will probably help prop up residential real estate heading into 2015.
"If things are improving, it's at a fairly slow rate," Guy Berger, U.S. economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut, said before the report. "The underlying trend a year from now will probably be better than it is now" with "gradual improvement supported by gradual improvement in the labor market and Americans' confidence."
Last month's sales rate was still the strongest since July 2008. As the August markdown attests, the preliminary figures can be subject to large revisions. The Commerce Department's report said the September reading will show between a 15.5 percent drop and 15.9 percent gain with 90 percent confidence.
Economists' estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from 433,000 to 513,000.
Declining borrowing costs will help make big-ticket purchases such as homes more affordable. The average rate on a 30-year, fixed mortgage fell to 3.92 percent in the week ended Oct. 23, the lowest since June 2013, according to Freddie Mac data. The rate has dropped by 0.27 percentage point over the past three weeks as concern over slowing global growth pushed investors out of stocks and into the safety of Treasury securities, causing yields to drop on the benchmarks used to calculate home-lending costs.
New-home sales, which account for about 7 percent of the residential market, are tabulated when contracts are signed, making them a timelier barometer than existing homes.
Purchases of previously owned homes, which are counted when a contract closes, climbed in September to the highest level in a year, National Association of Realtors data showed earlier this week. The 2.4 percent gain pushed sales to a 5.17 million annualized rate.
At the same time, the existing-home sales figures showed that participation among first-time buyers is still languishing. Those consumers made up 29 percent of the market for a third month in September, below the historical average around 40 percent.
Builders are staying busy by focusing on rental housing. Work began on more homes in September with a gain in multifamily projects such as apartment buildings outpacing single-family properties, Commerce Department data showed last week. Permits to build also rose.
"The housing market has entered a period of more modest growth than we experienced in 2012 and 2013," Larry Seay, chief financial officer at Meritage Homes Corp., a Scottsville, Arizona-based builder, said at an Oct. 1 finance conference. "But we believe it is still in the early innings of recovery and has a potential to grow for many years."
While household formation has been "running well below normal levels," the U.S. population has grown and employment is picking up, he said.
"More people than ever, with more jobs than ever, represents a tremendous amount of potential demand for new housing since vacancy rates are very low today," Seay said.
Payroll gains are on pace for their best performance in 15 years. Through September, the economy has added an average 226,670 per month after a 194,250 average last year.]]>
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index's measure on the state of the economy advanced last week to its highest point since January 2008, according to a report today. Figures from the Labor Department showed fewer workers filed claims for jobless benefits over the past month than at any time since May 2000.
Confidence will probably keep climbing as consumers feel more secure in their jobs and gasoline prices retreat to the lowest level in three years. Bigger wage increases would help keep sentiment improving and lay the groundwork for gains in spending that will boost growth even as economies in Europe and emerging nations cool.
"There's no let-up in the labor-market improvement," said Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York, and the top claims forecaster over the past two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. "There's no sign of any spillover from the turmoil in the markets and the global slowdown. The U.S. economy is chugging along despite the global turmoil."
Stocks jumped, recovering from yesterday's retreat, as earnings from Caterpillar Inc. to 3M Co. exceeded analysts' estimates and out of Europe signaled the slowdown in growth was abating. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 1.2 percent to 1,950.82 at the close in New York.
Data today showed the euro-area economy may have moved one step away from another recession as manufacturing unexpectedly grew across the region this month, while Spain's economy showed signs of a further recovery.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index for the week ended Oct. 19 climbed to 37.7, matching the second-highest level since August 2013, today's report showed.
The economy component rose to 28 from 25.7 a week earlier. The gauge of personal finances increased to 52.4 from 50 a week earlier, while the buying-climate measure, which asks whether this is a good time to make purchases, was little changed at 32.7 compared with 33 the prior period.
Lower prices at the gas pump and limited inflation for other goods and services are helping increase purchasing power at a time when wages are slow to pick up.
Cost of living
The cost of living barely rose in September, restrained by decelerating prices for a broad range of goods and services, a report from the Labor Department showed yesterday. The national average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.08 yesterday, down 62 cents from a high this year in April, according to AAA, the largest U.S. auto group.
"A lot of this latest uptick in confidence is also associated with the decline in gasoline prices, which has heavy influence on consumer psychology," said Michelle Girard, chief U.S. economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut. "The decline in gas prices leaves them in a better position heading into the holiday-shopping season."
The Labor Department's jobless claims report today showed the four-week average of applications, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, dropped to 281,000, the lowest since May 2000, from 284,000 the week before.
The reading for the week ended Oct. 18 climbed by 17,000 to 283,000, in line with the median forecast of 52 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
Sustained demand for goods and services is encouraging companies to retain workers, even as economic growth slows abroad. As a result, firings have hovered near historically low levels while gains in payrolls also bolster total income, giving households the confidence and the means to spend.
"Companies are very reluctant to lay off the workers they already have on the payroll," said Robert Stein, deputy chief economist at First Trust Portfolios LP in Wheaton, Illinois, who accurately forecast the rise in initial claims. "They expect demand to pick up and they expect more of what we call plow- horse economic growth -- slow and steady."
The drop in firings is among reasons why the economy's prospects are improving. The index of U.S. leading indicators accelerated in September, signaling the world's largest economy will keep expanding into 2015, another report today showed.
The Conference Board's gauge of the outlook for the next three to six months climbed 0.8 percent after no change in August, the New York-based group said.
"Overall, growth is looking pretty solid," said High Frequency's O'Sullivan.
Nine of the 10 indicators in the leading index contributed to the increase, including the drop in jobless claims, improving orders for business equipment and consumer goods and increasing building permits.
Americans are returning to the real-estate market as mortgage rates remain low and employers have added 2 million workers to payrolls so far this year.
The housing market is showing "more modest growth" than in 2012 and 2013, according to Larry Seay, chief financial officer at Meritage Homes Corp., a Scottsville, Arizona-based builder. At the same time, "it is still in the early innings of recovery and has a potential to grow for many years," he said at an Oct. 1 finance conference.
Federal Reserve policy makers, meeting next week, are debating how much longer to keep interest rates near zero as the labor market improves while global weakness threatens to derail their U.S. inflation goals.
The central bank said last month that asset purchases would probably end after its next meeting, on Oct. 28-29, and reiterated that rates would remain on hold for a "considerable time" after the program ends.]]>