Friday, April 29, 2011

Rhode Island Unemployment in 2010

While Rhode Island's overall unemployment rate remains among the highest in the country (we seem stuck at  #4 overall), the state's overall average rate masks how much unemployment rates differ among persons in different age groups. The chart below shows the age-breakdown for jobless rates in Rhode Island during 2010 (click to enlarge).

Like the US, Rhode Island had very high teenage unemployment in 2010 (over 25%). But, unlike so many other states, only two age groups had 2010 unemployment rates below 9 percent in this state. A truly incredible statistic (now shown in the chart): the 2010 Rhode Island unemployment rate for teenage males was 35.3 percent, versus "only" 16.5 percent for females. While the participation rates for male teenagers is below that for female teens, this is still a cause for alarm and concern.

Anyone who claims that what the above chart reflects is purely a cyclical phenomenon, related almost exclusively to national and global weakness, is very far off the mark. Yet this is the exactly what (too) many of thing our state's elected "leaders" have been saying since 2008! While the national and global problems did magnify problems here, Rhode Island was far along the path of substantial weakness before those national problems emerged (read my first Blog post that lays out the "stylized facts" for Rhode Island's economy).

So, what is Rhode Island's exit strategy? How do we plan to make truly meaningful inroads into reducing our high across-the-board high unemployment rates, especially when as we balance budgets with large deficits? How these budgets are balanced will be every bit as important as balancing them in general!

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