Current Economic Indicator Projects Slow Growth Throughout Q1 2019

Rhode Island Public Expenditures Council

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Current Economic Indicator Projects Slow Growth Throughout Q1 2019

Providence (May 2019) – Today, the Center for Global and Regional Economic Studies at Bryant University and the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC) jointly released the Rhode Island Current Economic Indicator (CEI) Briefing for the first quarter of 2019. The full briefing is available here.

Revised data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that Rhode Island GDP contracted unexpectedly in Q3 2018. On an annual basis, the Rhode Island economy showed relatively sluggish growth in 2018, expanding 0.6 percent and ranking 47th of 50 states in economic performance. With an increase of 0.5 percent, sluggish GDP growth is projected to continue throughout Q1 2019 and the “growth gap” between the Rhode Island economy and regional and national trends is expected to widen. 

Weak GDP performance reversed job growth in Rhode Island, with a loss of 2,800 jobs between December 2018 and March 2019. The unemployment rate reached its lowest point since 1989 in March 2019 at 3.8 percent, but the Rhode Island CEI shows concerning signs regarding job creation in key economic sectors, with Q1 2019 job losses in education and health services, information services, leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and trade, transportation, and utilities. Employment in manufacturing stagnated, while five of the eleven factors that comprise the Rhode Island CEI positively affected economic growth: general sales and gross receipts taxes, real wages and salary disbursements, initial unemployment claims, construction employment, and financial services employment. 

The quarterly CEI, developed by economists at The Center for Global and Regional Economic Studies at Bryant University, combines several key gauges of economic activity in a single statistic that measures the overall current economic conditions in Rhode Island. It is calibrated to grow at the rate of the Real Gross State Product and, therefore, can be interpreted as the underlying growth rate of the state economy. The CEI is calculated using the most current available data for the state.

For additional information, contact Edinaldo Tebaldi, Professor of Economics at Bryant University, at etebaldi@bryant.edu.