RIPEC, Bryant report: R.I. economy shows improvement in Q2

PROVIDENCE – Several economic indicators suggest the state’s economy is improving, 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 Thursday, showed an improved overall economic outlook in the second quarter compared with the first quarter. This included better quarter-over-quarter labor market metrics in several categories, including a 5,800-job increase in nonfarm jobs, a 1% drop in the unemployment rate and a 0.1-percentage-point rise in the labor force participation rate, the report stated. Net sales tax receipts, an indicator of demand in the economy, increased by 4.4% compared with the prior quarter.

However, while the number of employed Rhode Islanders was 3,000 higher than the level before the pandemic, the report noted Rhode Island-based jobs remained 9,300 below pre-pandemic levels. Still, leisure and hospitality, which experienced the largest job losses among major industry sectors during the pandemic, has regained 90.1% of jobs lost.

“Despite positive trends in the jobs data, the state’s recovery from the pandemic continues to be uneven.”,” said RIPEC President and CEO Michael DiBiase. 

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Some industries fared better than others, with the largest quarter-over-quarter employment gains coming in education and health services, the state’s largest industry sector. The number of financial services and information service jobs fell in the second quarter and continues to lag behind regional and national growth figures, the report said.