Report: R.I. GDP declines at 2% annual rate in Q4

RHODE ISLAND GDP declined at a 2% annualized rate in the fourth quarter of 2020. / COURTESY RHODE ISLAND PUBLIC EXPENDITURE COUNCIL
RHODE ISLAND GDP declined at a 2% annualized rate in the fourth quarter of 2020. / COURTESY RHODE ISLAND PUBLIC EXPENDITURE COUNCIL

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island’s gross domestic product was estimated to have declined at a 2% annualized rate in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a new report.

GDP had expanded at a 35.5% annualized rate in the third quarter, according to the Current Economic Index released on Thursday by the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council and The Center for Global and Regional Economic Studies at Bryant University.

The CEI is based on 14 economic indicators, tracking regional, national and state economic factors.

The United States economy expanded at a 4% annualized rate in the fourth quarter and at a 33.4% annualized rate in the third quarter.

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The report said that Rhode Island’s job recovery in the third quarter was followed by a reduction of jobs in the fourth quarter, with the state’s hospitality and leisure sectors continuing to be severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report noted that Rhode Island’s GDP growth has trailed that of both the U.S. and New England since at least 2015, and said that a job-creation index of the last five years shows that both Rhode Island and New England lag the nation in this measure.

“The data indicate that long-standing systemic weaknesses in Rhode Island’s economy have persisted into the pandemic, and economic recovery and growth likely will be protracted,” said RIPEC CEO and President Michael DiBiase. “Policymakers should be considering structural changes to help spur growth and get the economy back on track,” he continued.

Offsetting the economic decline in the quarter was an increase of general sales and gross receipts taxes, rising 6.8% in the fourth quarter, as well as a rise in several industries such as professional business services, construction, transportation and utilities, and information.

Read the full report online.

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