PROVIDENCE – The Ocean State’s economy is picking up steam, according to the Rhode Island Current Economic Indicator briefing released Monday by the Center for Global and Regional Economic Studies at Bryant University and the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.
“Rhode Island’s economy is showing signs of continued growth, with certain segments of the labor market performing reasonably well,” RIPEC Executive Director John C. Simmons said in a statement.
The briefing stated that the Rhode Island economy’s growth has been “slightly stronger” over the last four quarters than observed in previous years and “slightly faster” than the growth observed in the New England region.
Rhode Island’s economy grew at an annualized rate of 3 percent in the first quarter, compared with an expansion of 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter, 2.1 percent in the third quarter, and 3.9 percent in the second quarter of 2015.
In comparison, the New England economy grew at an annualized rate of 2.6 percent in the first quarter, compared with 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter and 2 percent in the third quarter.
The state economy is expected to expand at an annualized rate of 2.7 percent in the second quarter, according to the report.
Seven of the 11 internal factors that comprise the Rhode Island CEI positively affected economic growth in the first quarter of 2016: general sales and gross receipt taxes (a proxy for aggregate demand); real total wages and salary disbursements; manufacturing employment; professional and business services employment; financial services employment; leisure and hospitality employment; and construction employment.
The four factors that negatively affected the Rhode Island CEI in the first quarter were: employment in education and health services, the largest industry in the state; information services employment; trade, transportation and utilities services employment; and initial unemployment claims, which increased 9.2 percent in the quarter.
“It is encouraging that growth over the last year was stronger than we’ve observed previously. But despite recent performance, the state has been unable to close the persistent ‘growth gap’ that has existed between Rhode Island and both the New England region and the country as a whole since the Great Recession ended in 2009. This long-term trend of slow growth in the state suggests that structural issues continue to slow economic expansion in Rhode Island,” Simmons said.