RI Economy: One Step Forward, Two Back?

Rhode Island just can’t seem to catch a break. This July the state economy showed slight  improvement over the same time last year for the third month in a row. But there’s a catch: Rhode Islanders were worse off in July 2009 than they were the previous month, according to University of Rhode Island economist Leonard Lardaro. His Current Conditions Index, a monthly measure of economic growth on a scale of 0 to 100, pegs state economic growth at 25 in July 2009, an encouraging reversal from a jaw-dropping low of 8 in July 2008. However, this good news is tempered by the fact that the Index was at 42 in June 2009, and even then, the economy was still on the decline. At 50, economic growth is neutral. Above 50, the economy is expanding, while below that level it is receding. The Index is based on 12 indicators, including retail sales, manufacturing wages, and the unemployment rate. At least as far as the last indicator goes, things are forecasted to get worse before they get better, according to local economists.

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