Rhode Island’s Economic Growth Stalls in Q4, Lags Region and Nation

A new report from Bryant University and the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC) claims that Rhode Island’s economy lags the New England region and the United States in several indicators of economic growth.

The Rhode Island Key Performance Indicators (KPI) Briefing for the fourth quarter of 2022 was released Tuesday. 

The report found that after several quarters of economic growth, Rhode Island’s unemployment rate increased, but the state experienced no major changes in the remaining three of four key economic indicators. 

“Rhode Island’s economy has improved over last year, but we saw very little change— positive or negative—in most key economic indicators for the fourth quarter of 2022,” said RIPEC President and CEO Michael DiBiase. “While experiencing little change this quarter, Rhode Island’s economic trajectory continues to lag behind New England and the U.S., highlighting a need for the state to sharpen its focus on economic development and improving the business climate.”

There were 8,100 fewer Rhode Island-based jobs in Q4 2022 than before the pandemic. Rhode Island has regained 90.8% of all jobs lost — lower than the New England region (91.7 percent of jobs regained). The U.S. overtook its pre-pandemic level of jobs in Q3 2022.

The number of employed Rhode Islanders was up by 6,100 over pre-pandemic levels, even as employment fell by 1,900 (0.3%) in Q4. The number of unemployed Rhode Islanders increased significantly, by 3,700 quarter-over-quarter, as the state’s labor force participation rate marginally increased (from 63.7 to 63.8%). Rhode Island’s unemployment rate of 3.5% was up from 2.9% the previous quarter and on par with the regional and national rate.

Net sales tax receipts, an indicator of demand in the economy, decreased slightly by 0.5 percent (seasonally adjusted) in Q4.

In Q3 2022, Rhode Island’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased 1.8% (annualized). Both New England and the U.S. experienced significantly greater increases (2.7% and 3.2%, respectively). GDP data from Q4 2022 are not yet available.