Updated March 24 at 12:29am

In the long run, investment in people pays off the most

For the first time in nearly a dozen years in January, Rhode Island's jobless rate was lower than the United States as a whole. But as we look at the state's employment situation, one point must remain paramount – this is no time to lose …

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In the long run, investment in people pays off the most

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For the first time in nearly a dozen years in January, Rhode Island's jobless rate was lower than the United States as a whole.

But as we look at the state's employment situation, one point must remain paramount – this is no time to lose our collective sense of urgency for solving Rhode Island's jobs crisis.

First off, it is important to note that job growth in Little Rhody has been quite slow and is well below the national average. The drop in the unemployment rate is less a function of increasing jobs so much as a shrinking labor force.

Rhode Island will not be able to grow its economy if it does not grow its working-age population, which is a strong argument for Gov. Gina M. Raimondo's college-tuition plan as opposed to House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello's plan to eliminate the car tax. One of these two is far more likely to supply the state with more young, smart, engaged workers than the other, and it's not the one that will make the state pay more to municipalities that will be collecting less tax revenue.

In addition, the General Assembly should be spending all its time figuring out ways to increase investment in the state's human capital and far less trying to figure out what went wrong with 38 Studios – we know what went wrong. The state made a stupid investment and the money is gone. You can't drive a car forward if you're always looking in the rearview mirror.

By all means, celebrate the state's unemployment rate. But don't for one second think that there is any job more important than growing the number of people working here. n

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