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By Emily Greenhalgh
PBN Contributing Writer
SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Rhode Island is finding itself left behind an accelerating national economy according to University of Rhode Island economist Leonard Lardaro’s Current Conditions Index.
The CCI index tracks the state’s economic performance using a dozen national and local economic indicators. A number greater than 50 signifies economic expansion, while a value of less than 50 denotes contraction.
The January index registered a value of 58 – it was 50 in January 2011 – breaking a string of 10 consecutive months in which the index was lower than a year earlier. Seven of the CCI’s indicators improved in January, including: retail sales; consumer sentiment; single-unit (housing) permits; total manufacturing hours; manufacturing wage; benefit exhaustions; and the unemployment rate.
While the CCI value of 58 pushes the Ocean State’s economic recovery to the 23-month mark, the release of Rhode Island’s revised labor market data for last year showed that the economy was slightly more “dead in the water” than previously estimated.
“In spite of this, our exceedingly tepid recovery did continue, albeit barely since the second half of 2011,” said Lardaro.
The revised data, which Lardaro called “highly disappointing,” showed that the unemployment rate was revised significantly higher than previously reported, while labor force, government employment and private service-producing employment were much lower.
“It should now be painfully obvious to anyone who analyzes these data that many if not most of Rhode Island’s economic problems are the result of its structural, not its cyclical, negatives,” said Lardaro in his report. “At the present time, Rhode Island finds itself once again being left behind as the pace of national economic activity accelerates. The days when our leaders were able to rationalize away our problems have now officially ended.”