R.I. beats national average in economic vitality index

RHODE ISLAND'S ECONOMIC VITALITY just outperformed the national average based on data collected between 2013 and 2017, according to a recent report. / COURTESY BROOKINGS INSTITUTION
RHODE ISLAND'S ECONOMIC VITALITY just outperformed the national average based on data collected between 2013 and 2017, according to a recent report. / COURTESY BROOKINGS INSTITUTION

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island’s economic vitality stood slightly higher than the national average in 2017, according to the Hamilton Project’s Vitality Index and the Brookings Institution Thursday.

The study broke down economic data by state and county, measuring median household income, poverty rate, unemployment rate, employment rate, housing vacancy rate and life expectancy, using data collected from 2013 to 2017.

Rhode Island’s most highly ranked county in 2017 was Bristol County, with an index value of 1.11. Scores across the country ranged from -4.33 to 3.07, with a value of 0 representing the national vitality index.

The second-highest index value for county in Rhode Island was Washington County at 0.92, followed by Newport County at 0.82, Kent County at 0.73 and Providence at a -0.32 value, the only county in the state behind the national average vitality index.

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Bristol County, Mass., was reported to have a Vitality Index value of 0.24, compared with the Massachusetts value of 0.8.

In Rhode Island the median household income for the measured time period was $61,000, compared with the U.S. average of $57,700. The poverty rate in the state was 13.4 percent, lower than the 14.6 percent U.S average rate.

The state’s employment rate of those aged 25 to 54 years old also bested the national average at 78.5 percent, compared with 76.6 percent. The housing vacancy rate in the state was 11.7 percent in the time span, compared with 12.2 percent nationally. Rhode Island even edged out the national life expectancy rate at 79.8 years, compared with 79.1 years.

The state’s unemployment rate was 0.2 percentage points higher than the national average at 6.8 percent from 2013-2017.

Breaking out Rhode Island’s top performing index value and lowest index value:

Bristol County: Index value of 1.11

The area had a median household income of $74,600, thousands of dollars higher than both state and national median household incomes. The poverty rate in the county was more than half the state average and nearly half the national rate. Unemployment in the area was 4.2 percent, significantly lower than both the national and state average, 6.8 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively.

Housing vacancy in Bristol County was 6.9 percent, also significantly lower than national and state averages. Life Expectancy was 81.2 years in the county, more than a year more than both the state and national average.

Providence County: Index value of -0.32

The Providence County area’s median wage from 2013 to 2017 was $52,500, $8,500 less than the state median wage and $5,200 less than the national median wage.

The poverty rate in Providence was 16.7 percent in the report, 3.3 percentage points higher than the state average and 2.1 percentage points higher than the national average.

The unemployment rate in Providence County as 7.6 percent in the report, 1 percentage point higher than the national average and 0.8 percentage points higher than the state average.

The employment rate in the county was 76.5 percent, just under the national average and 2 percentage points below the state figure.

Housing vacancy in the county was lower than state and national rates in Providence County at 10.3 percent, compared with 11.7 percent in Rhode Island and 12.2 percent nationally.

Life expectancy in Providence County was 79.3 years, lower than across Rhode Island but higher than the national expectancy.

The whole report can be viewed here.

Chris Bergenheim is the PBN web editor. Email him at Bergenhem@PBN.com.