The second quarter is progressing a little better for Rhode Island than had previously been thought. It has been apparent that during the first part of 2013, Rhode Island’s economy has not displayed as much momentum as it did during the second half of 2012. And, even though the Current Conditions Index values so far this year have lagged those from the final two quarters of last year, at least this year’s values had been better than the corresponding values one year ago, with the exception of April. Based on the most recent data, the April CCI value was revised higher, from 67 to 75, so it too bettered its year-earlier value. As for May, the CCI jumped to 83, with ten of twelve indicators improving, tying its highest value thus far for 2013. Furthermore, several of the CCI indicators in May improved despite difficult “comps” last May. So, overall, several trends continue to take shape and May points to the possibility that Rhode Island may re-accelerate in the second half of 2013. This is not an unreasonable possibility, especially since the US economy will likely continue to improve as we progress through 2013. The primary question for Rhode Island is therefore, whether the improved values later this year (assuming they occur) are improvements over the prior months from last year. This will not be easy for Rhode Island, but it is certainly not out of the question for us to see this occur. Any good news like that would be more than welcome for our state, which CNBC recently referred to in its survey of the Best States to Do Business as: “A perennial loser in our study...”
US Consumer Sentiment improved for the fourth consecutive month, in spite of a difficult comp. Related to this, Retail Sales remained strong. While Rhode Island’s goods-producing sector is performing well, its service-producing sector has fared less well. The rate of growth in Private Service-Producing Employment remains well below a one percent rate (+0.4% in May). Its level has stabilized around 350,000.