Lardaro: Economy keeps accelerating

UNIVERSITY OF Rhode Island economist and professor Leonard Lardaro said Monday Rhode Island’s economy continued to accelerate in September, expanding for the 18th consecutive month. /PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

PROVIDENCE – The state’s economy continued to accelerate in September, expanding for the 18th consecutive month, University of Rhode Island economist and professor Leonard Lardaro said Monday.   

The Current Conditions Index he produces each month had a year-over-year value of 92 in September, with 11 of 12 indicators improving relative to a year ago. It was also the second time in several months it had rose from 67, marking continued expansion.   

A CCI value above 50 indicates expansion, while a value below 50 indicates contraction. 

“Even more impressive is the fact that many of the improvements in the CCI indicators over the past two months have occurred relative to fairly difficult ‘comps’ from a year ago,” Lardaro said. “There can be no doubt that Rhode Island has and continues to move well beyond its pandemic declines.” 

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Lardaro said employment service jobs rising for the third time after falling six consecutive months was the best news of September. Although it grew at a slower rate month over month, Lardaro added that if the upward trend continues, it would point to a sustained trend of rising employment. 

“This is important since payroll employment in Rhode Island remains far below where it was pre-pandemic,” Lardaro said. 

Retail sales and total manufacturing hours, the two star indicators throughout the entire pandemic and post-pandemic period, sustained their strength in September.  

Despite retail sales growth slowing 3.7% in September from 9% in August, it has now improved on a yearly basis every month since May 2020. 

Total manufacturing hours increased 7.7% in September, improving for the 19th consecutive month since February 2021. Manufacturing wage growth accelerated beyond what it had been the last two months, with Lardaro adding, “Like the nation, these two areas are continuing to propel Rhode Island through this recovery.” 

Benefit exhaustions and new claims improved dramatically in September. Benefit exhaustions, which Lardaro says are a reflection of long-term unemployment, fell by 70.2% in September, continuing a trend that began in May 2021. New claims, a leading labor indicator that reflects layoffs, declined by more than 50% year over year and has fallen at double-digit rates since July 2021. 

Year-over-year CCI indicator performance in September: 

  • Government employment increased 0.3% 
  • U.S. consumer sentiment declined 19.6% 
  • Single-unit permits increased 8.3% 
  • Retail sales rose 3.7% 
  • Employment-services jobs increased 2.1% 
  • Private-services production employment rose 3.1% 
  • Total manufacturing hours increased 7.7% 
  • The state’s manufacturing wage rose 6.2% 
  • The state labor force increased 0.7%. 

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