Q3 2019 Current Economic Indicator Shows Steady, Slow Growth

Rhode Island Public Expenditures Council

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Q3 2019 Current Economic Indicator Shows Steady, Slow Growth

Providence (November 2019) – Today, the Center for Global and Regional Economic Studies at Bryant University and the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council jointly released the Rhode Island Current Economic Indicator (CEI) Briefing for Q3 2019. The full briefing is available here.

Rhode Island GDP is projected to have expanded 1.8 percent in Q3 2019. For the first time since 2013, Rhode Island’s annualized average GDP growth during the first three quarters of 2019 has been slightly faster than that in the New England Region. However, Rhode Island’s GDP growth rate would have to increase at a faster pace to close the “growth gap” that has developed between Rhode Island and New England since the Great Recession.

Nonfarm employment in Rhode Island is projected to have grown by 8,400 jobs between January and September 2019, and initial unemployment claims are projected to have decreased by 26.2 percent in Q3 2019. The unemployment rate has been around 3.6 percent since May 2019, down from 4.0 percent in January. Employment figures grew in leisure and hospitality, financial services, education and health services, professional and business services, and trade, transportation, and utilities services. Despite growth in Q2 and Q3 2019, there was virtually no job growth in Rhode Island’s information services industry over the last year.  

Overall, eight of the eleven internal factors that comprise the RI CEI positively affected the economy in Q3 2019, including a 7.3 percent increase in general sales and gross receipt taxes, suggesting that consumer spending has been key to economic growth in the Ocean State. Of the remaining three factors, declining employment in manufacturing and construction had a negative impact, while preliminary estimates indicate that total real wages and salary disbursements stayed constant in Q3 2019.

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.