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Rhode Island’s Struggling Economy: Top Stories in RI in 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012

 

Rhode Island was one of the first states to enter the great recession and experts say the slow recovery is likely to continue for several more years.

While politics and scandals dominated the news cycle in 2012, the state’s sky-high unemployment rate was far more damaging to the average Rhode Islander. At 10.4 percent, the jobless rate remains the second-highest in the country and some have predicted that the number won’t dip below 9 percent until at least 2014.

Between poor business rankings, high tax rates and an unskilled workforce, the Ocean State has struggled to remain competitive with the rest of New England and while leaders in government, business and the community have come together to discuss the state’s woes, very little action has been taken.

Expect 2013 to be different.

While Governor Lincoln Chafee remains hesitant to swing for the fences following the 38 Studios debacle, he also needs a major victory as he gears up what for a difficult re-election campaign in 2014.

At the same time, House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed have seen their approval numbers dip in the polls thanks to 38 Studios and a general perception that the legislature has lost touch with residents. While they both deserve credit for increasing transparency in government, they too are in need of a homerun to hang their hats on.

So what do they have in store?

Look for the General Assembly to consider several options for turning around the economy next year, including revamping the Economic Development Corporation and restoring the historic tax credit program.

 

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