ECONOMIC CONDITIONS in Rhode Island are going downhill, according Leonard Lardaro’s Current Conditions Index, but the University of Rhode Island economist isn’t ready to say the state is nearing a double-dip recession.
SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Economic conditions in Rhode Island are going downhill, according Leonard Lardaro’s Current Conditions Index, but the University of Rhode Island economist isn’t ready to say the state is nearing a double-dip recession.
“Don’t construe this as indicating that I believe things here are going well. Rhode Island’s labor market is in abysmal shape,” said Lardaro. “[The state’s] economy remians at a virtual standstill. I still believe that we are still in a recovery, but barely.”
The CCI Index tracks Rhode Island’s economic performance across a dozen metrics. A number over 50 signifies progress; a value less than 50 denotes the opposite.
The February index registered at 50, down from 58 in January. It was 67 in February 2011.
Lardaro said examination of individual indicators is what prevents him from declaring a double-dip recession.
Six of the CCI’s metrics improved in February including retail sales, a strong economic indicator, which rose 6.3 percent over last year. Also, while some indicators including payroll employment have continued to decline the drops “are not all that large in magnitude” according to Lardaro.
Benefit exhaustions, which measures long-term unemployment, fell by 9.5 percent and new claims fell by 4.2 percent.
Still the state saw a net job loss of 1,000 in February. Government employment fell by 1 percent and private service-producing employment declined for the fourth consecutive month and employment service jobs fell for the 11th time by 8.8 percent.
New home construction, tracked by single-unit permits, fell by 3.3 percent in February even though the weather got warmer.
“As for this recovery, Rhode Island continues to hang on by its finger nails,” said Lardaro.