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By Rebecca Keister
PBN Staff Writer
SOUTH KINGSTOWN – December 2012 brought reason to celebrate Rhode Island’s economic performance, as last year’s fourth quarter showed broad-based positive economic activity, according to University of Rhode Island economist Leonard Lardaro’s December Current Conditions Index.
“It is now safe to conclude that as 2012 ended, Rhode Island’s economy shifted into a higher gear,” Lardaro said. “As 2012 ended, we witnessed a broadening of economic activity that produced greater momentum.”
That momentum, Lardaro said, is evidenced in the rates of change of CCI indicators and the state’s economy. However, he cautions that the CCI, which puts a figure to the state’s economic performance over a dozen metrics, measures momentum and not the metrics’ values, some of which, including payroll employment, he said, remain below the levels they attained during the last economic recovery.
“According to the fourth-quarter CCI performance, we are moving toward our peak more rapidly,” Lardaro said. “Sustaining our positive momentum will require us to change.”
A CCI indicator greater than 50 indicates progress while a value less than 50 signals setbacks. The CCI for December was 92, up from 83 in November.
It’s a number Lardaro said hasn’t been seen since November 2003. Lardaro was also able to stop assigning two measurements to the CCI after, he said, flawed data on the state’s unemployment rate from the R.I. Department of Labor and Training became less so as the fourth quarter progressed.
In December, 11 of the 12 measured CCI metrics showed improvement, with the largest gains coming from a 35. 1 percent increase in single-use permits, an 8.4 percent increase in employment service jobs, and a 4.9 percent decrease in new unemployment claims.
The only metric to show negative change was government employment, with a 1.8 percent decrease in December.