By Kimberley Donoghue
PBN Web Editor
SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Rhode Island’s economy ended the year on a sour note, according to University of Rhode Island economist Leonard Lardaro in his Current Conditions Index.
The index tracks the state’s economic performance through one dozen national and local economic indicators. A reading of less than 50 indicates economic contraction, while greater than 50 signifies expansion.
In December, the value slipped to 58 from 67 a month earlier. The local economy had begun to “slip toward stall speed” until November, Lardaro said, noting a four-month decline began in July, 58; August, 42; September, 50; and October 50.
Rhode Island, while still in “expansion value” territory at 58 in December, failed to exceed its year-earlier value for the 10th consecutive month.
“I always view December as ‘the dark side of the moon’ when it comes to economic data here, since, like the astronauts, we too are almost entirely out of touch with what is actually occurring at that time,” said Lardaro, while noting he expects positive revisions to a number indicators from the upcoming 2011 labor market revisions.
“I truly hope the picture that emerges is materially better than what we have come to believe, since substantial downward revisions would reflect a path far more difficult for us to manage,” he added.
Seven of the CCI’s indicators improved in December, including: retail sales; private service-production employment; total manufacturing hours; manufacturing wage; benefit exhaustions; new claims; and the unemployment rate.