Ocean State Population Recedes with Economy

Rhode Island has once again found itself in a lonely category with Michigan. Both states were the only ones whose populations declined between 2006 and 2008, according to the Providence Business News. Michigan shrank by 80,000 residents while Rhode Island lost 8,000. But in terms of ratio to total poplation, the emigration from Rhode Island was double that of Michigan: 1.9 percent to .9 percent. The two states also share the unhappy distinction of being among the top three with the highest unemployment rates. As noted in the PBN story, these two statistics are not unrelated:

The Land Policy Institute’s researchers examined the economic impact population loss had on Michigan, and said it had worsened that state’s long economic crisis. They estimated the outflow caused Michigan to lose 15,855 jobs and $1.9 billion in economic output, as well as $2.49 billion in home equity value and hundreds of millions of dollars more in labor and property income.

“When people leave town, so does their economic activity,” Soji Adelaja, the institute’s director and the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “This is especially true in a service economy, which depends upon people providing and needing services. The impact of these departures cuts deeper into the economy.”

Now you might wonder what the impact has been on Rhode Island. Well, OSPRI just hired an economy policy fellow, J. Scott Moody, who has been tasked with studying a number of tax policy issues, including the relationship between higher taxes and the emigration of businesses as well as people. Similar studies have been done by the Manhattan Institute in New York City as well as the Yankee Institute in Connecticut (Mr. Moody was co-author of the latter study). So stay tuned for more on this issue from OSPRI.

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