SOUTH KINGSTOWN – In a second consecutive month of loss, the Current Conditions Index compiled by Leonard Lardaro, a University of Rhode Island economist, fell another eight points to 67.
“Not only was April’s CCI its lowest this year, it was the lowest value extending all the way back to November of 2016,” said Lardaro in the report released Monday.
Published monthly, the CCI measures 12 economic indicators that are representative of the economic climate of the state. A value above 50 implies economic expansion while a value less than 50 indicates contraction.
While characterizing April’s dip to 67 as “disappointing,” Lardaro cautioned the public from panic, adding: “this month’s performance was fairly strong as disappointments go.”
He noted rises in both the labor force – which reached its highest level since March 2016 – and employment – which reached its highest zenith since late 2008 – as rays of hope.
In addition, Lardaro believes a continued downward trend of benefit exhaustions, stretching back to July 2017, is promising.
Further detail of April’s performance is outlined below:
- Government employment rose 0.2 percent in April.
- A 2.2 percent jump was witnesses in U.S. consumer sentiment, its third consecutive improvement after two declines in a row.
- Reflective of new home construction, single-unit permits grew by 22.3 percent – its second rise in six months.
- A 4.6 percent jump was seen in retail sales in April.
- Employment service jobs, a leading labor market indicator, rose by 5.9 percent in April representing “more rapid growth,” explained Lardaro after a sluggish first quarter in 2018.
- In April, a 1.5 percent growth was measured in private service-producing employment.
- Total manufacturing hours, a proxy for manufacturing output, jumped by 9.1 percent in April thanks to improvements in employment and the length of the workweek.
- In its tenth consecutive rise, the labor force gained 1 percent in April – “a major feat in Rhode Island,” said Lardaro.
- A 12.2 percent jump in benefit exhaustions was measured in April while new claims saw a 0.4 percent increase that month as well.
- There was a 0.4 percent dip in the manufacturing wage in April.
Looking down the road, said Lardaro, “added emphasis should be paid to total manufacturing hours, single-unit permits, new claims, employment service jobs and retail sales.”