RIPEC, Bryant report: R.I. economy slowed in Q1

PROVIDENCE – The state’s economy has slowed despite improvement across most key measures, the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council and the Center for Global and Regional Economic Studies at Bryant University concluded in a report released on Tuesday. 

The Rhode Island Key Performance Indicators Quarterly Briefing reported improvements both quarter over quarter and year over year in three of four core economic indicators in Rhode Island: nonfarm employment, labor force participation rate and net sales tax receipts. 

“Rhode Island’s economy continues to move in a positive direction,” said Michael DiBiase, RIPEC president and CEO. “Unlike the Great Recession, Rhode Island has recovered nearly all of its jobs lost during the pandemic. However, we are lagging in terms of economic growth compared to New England and the nation.” 

Rhode Island-based jobs grew 0.5% quarter over quarter, while the number of employed Rhode Islanders remained essentially unchanged during that time, according to the report.
The state’s nonfarm employment grew to 500,300 in the first quarter, an increase of 0.5% from the fourth quarter. However, there were still 4,800 fewer jobs than before the pandemic. While Rhode Island has regained 94.6% of all jobs lost, both the New England region and the U.S. have overtaken their pre-pandemic level of jobs. 

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Rhode Island experienced 700 total jobs lost across four of the state’s major industries in the first quarter: manufacturing, information services, financial services and education and health services. Construction had the highest gain in the first quarter, adding 1,600 jobs since the fourth quarter. 

Rhode Island’s first quarter unemployment rate of 3.1% was down from 3.3% the previous quarter and below the regional rate of 3.4% and national rate of 3.5%. 

Net sales tax receipts, an indicator of demand in the economy, increased by 0.2% compared with the prior quarter.