There has been a great deal of discussion about how many jobs each New England state has added during this recovery. The most important factor that must be taken into consideration when comparing state employment performances, which I have yet to hear discussed, is that the current recovery did not begin at the same time for each state.
Rhode Island reached its employment trough before any other New England state, in November of 2001. Since that time, its employment has risen by 4 percent (through April of 2006). Clearly, this is the most substantial increase of any New England state since November of 2001. The table shows when each state’s employment trough occurred, the percent change in employment since Rhode Island’s trough in November 2001, and each state’s rank.
The flaw in this comparison, however, is that with the exception of Maine, whose job trough occurred at approximately the same time as Rhode Island, no other New England state reached its trough until some time in 2003. Using November 2001 as a “base period” in this context is therefore an apples and oranges comparison, since this ranking counts the declines preceding eventual employment troughs along with the added jobs for every other New England state.
If done the correct way, contrasting job growth since each state’s trough, New Hampshire leads New England, with a 4.7 percent rise since its trough in April of 2003. Rhode Island still ranks a very respectable second, with 4 percent employment growth, and Vermont is third with 3.5 percent job growth. Annualizing the average monthly employment gains since each state’s trough, New Hampshire again ranks first, with 1.38 percent, Vermont is second, with 0.97 percent, and Rhode Island is third, at 0.83 percent.
While some might find these results disappointing, let me point out that for Rhode Island to be in “the top three” for New England is a better-than-average performance based on its performance in past decades.
by Leonard Lardaro