Report: R.I. economy shows improvement amid slower employment growth in Q3

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island’s economy continues to improve despite slowing employment growth, according to a report from the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council and the Center for Global and Regional Economic Studies at Bryant University. 

The Rhode Island Key Performance Indicators Quarterly briefing, published on Friday, showed an improved overall economic outlook in the third quarter compared with the second quarter. This included better quarter-over-quarter labor market metrics in a pair of categories, a 1,700-job increase in nonfarm jobs and a 0.7-percentage-point rise in the labor force participation rate, which was the largest increase since the second quarter of 2021, the report stated. 

However, the report noted Rhode Island’s 0.3% increase in nonfarm jobs in the third quarter was slower than both the 1.2% rate in previous quarter and 1% rate in the first quarter. 

Rhode Island’s unemployment rate of 2.9% for the third quarter of 2022 was the lowest rate since the third quarter of 1998, according to the report. 

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“Rhode Island’s economic trajectory was largely positive in Q3, with continued growth in both the number of employed Rhode Islanders and Rhode-Island based jobs, and a notable increase in the state’s labor force participation rate,” said RIPEC President and CEO Michael DiBiase. “Even while more Rhode Islanders are employed than before the pandemic, however, just 91.3% of Rhode Island-based jobs lost during the pandemic have been recovered. In comparison, the United States has now regained all lost jobs.” 

While the number of employed Rhode Islanders was 8,000 higher than the level before the pandemic, the report noted Rhode Island-based jobs remained 7,700 below pre-pandemic levels. The report stated every major industry sector except for trade, transportation and utilities saw gains in the third quarter, though education and health services added jobs at a slower rate than the U.S. and New England region and has regained only 73.2% of jobs lost during the pandemic. 

Leisure and hospitality, which experienced the largest job losses among major industry sectors during the pandemic, has regained 90.1% of jobs lost.  

Net sales tax receipts, an indicator of demand in the economy, decreased by 1.2% compared with the prior quarter but were up 8.4% year over year.