Working in Rhode Island

Working in Rhode Island

Rhode Island, the Ocean State, is on rocky seas when it comes to the employment scenario and economic recovery. While the state is a desirable place to live for its beautiful natural resources and quaint communities, it is not a welcoming place for new businesses and start-ups or for those seeking employment.

The state budget is on shaky ground with some line items void of any funding. Regulatory and compliance statutes are outdated with relation to the United States as a whole, but particularly with more business-friendly states like Massachusetts and Connecticut as neighbors. With the June 2012 bankruptcy of game-maker, 38 Studios, amidst allegations of licensing, permit and loan problems, Providence's business community is dealing with its latest blow playing out on the worldwide stage.

Unlike the national trend toward recovery, Rhode Island continues to take steps backward. The unemployment rate is climbing while the country is seeing improvement in jobless rates. In April, Rhode Island saw the percentage of job seekers reach 11.2 % while the U.S. continued to see small incremental improvements with a jobless rate of 8.2%.

Just over 450,000 people are currently employed in Rhode Island with 50,000 in goods producing occupations. The remaining 400,000 are in services which require knowledge and skill sets Rhode Islanders are finding difficult to attain. Recent statistical analyses conclude that many workers who held jobs prior to 2007 with specific skill sets will never again find work in Rhode Island in many physically, labor-intensive occupations which are now dormant.

Construction services, manufacturers and financial institutions were devastated by the recession. NEEP found no indicators than any of these sectors would recover. Construction is at its lowest level in over 25 years.

One of the greatest factors in the gloomy outlook is that education and skill sets of Rhode Islanders do not match the requirements necessary to obtain employment in the fastest growing sectors of information services (IT) and technology. Approximately 40% of the population aged 25 or older has any type of college degree compared with the other states in New England which average about 50%.

The average wages for professional and technical services is $64,000 per year. Health care workers currently take home $42,000 annually.

IT and technology are each expected to grow faster in Rhode Island than the rest of New England. Through 2016, Rhode Island is expected to expand each of those sectors by roughly 3.0% while the rest of New England expects 2.0% growth in those industries.

At a conference of the New England Economic Partnership (NEEP) in May, economists reported that Rhode Island businesses in IT, health care, science and technology would be increasing their searches for educated and skilled human resources in the Northeastern region where overall growth is predicted to be slow. The lack of qualified residents may have recruiters looking in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire for candidates.