SOUTH KINGSTOWN – In his December Current Conditions Index, University of Rhode Island Economist Leonard Lardaro said 2017 had a “fairly strong” economic performance but closed on a “cautionary note.”
In the final month of 2017, the CCI fell eight points to 75 from where its standing at 83 in November.
“That’s still a very favorable value, which ironically is tied for the lowest value of 2017,” said Lardaro in his report.
Three months of 2017 – January, September and December – had measures of 75. The high came in March at 92 and each of the eight remaining months measured 83.
In December, Rhode Island’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose 0.1 percent to 4.4 percent and nine of the 11 below indicators in Lardaro’s CCI improved.
- In its third consecutive increase, Employment Service Jobs rose 1 percent.
- A proxy for manufacturing output, Total Manufacturing Hours increased by 8 percent – what Lardaro called an “amazing” rise.
- New Claims, a timely measure of layoffs, sustained its downward trend falling 11.3 percent.
- Falling 2.2 percent, U.S. Consumer Sentiment ended its 13-month consecutive climb.
- Reflecting new home construction, Single-Unit Permits “fell sharply” by 31.6 percent.
- There was a 3.2 percent jump in Retail Sales.
- There was a 0.3 percent dip in Government Employment.
- Manufacturing Wage climbed 1.9 percent in December.
- Lardaro called the 0.4 percent increase in Private Service-Producing Employment in December “sluggish.”
- Benefit Exhaustion, which reflects longer-term unemployment dipped by 7.4 percent.
- The Labor Force rose by 0.8 percent – its tenth consecutive improvement over the year.
Of the marathon improvement made by the Labor Force indicator, Lardaro said: “[It is] a very big deal for Rhode Island, although a normal occurrence for every other state.”