Man of the Year - GoLocal

Monday, December 26, 2011


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Rhode Island’s Man of the Year are the thousands of men in Rhode Island who have been devastated by unemployment. The numbers are beyond alarming and their plight is barely touched on by elected officials or even the media.

Today, Rhode Island’s overall unemployment rate is at a staggering 10.5% and one of only three states in America whose unemployment increased in November.

But for men the rate of unemployment is 12% through the first 11 months of the year – more than 2% higher than the unemployment rate for women (a disturbing 9.9%).

For the unemployed and their families the impact has been crushing, the problem has persisted for years, and the impact to Rhode Island’s economy is significant.

While the national unemployment average has dropped to 8.6% in November (its lowest level since March of 2009), the lack of energy, rhetoric and resources dedicated to increasing jobs in Rhode Island is startling.

State Focus

Rhode Island’s Governor Chafee has focused on a range of issues – E-verify, gay marriage, higher education opportunities for undocumented immigrants, medical marijuana, holiday trees, and improving service in the Department of Motor Vehicles. While these are all issues that may warrant public policy review, he has ignored the plight of Rhode Island families when just about 1 in 8 Rhode Island men seek jobs, but can’t find one. The priorities seem displaced.

Governor Chafee’s inauguration speech did not mention the issue of unemployment and less than 1% of the press releases his office has issued mention the issue. The lack of action, compassion and attention is disturbing at a minimum.

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For all the unemployed, but especially those blue-collar unemployed workers, the opportunities are gravely limited. Not only because for many their skills and education don’t align with the limited new job opportunities, but because those elected have failed to develop strategies to offer them solutions.

Fathers, Sons, Husbands, Friends

In the past year, Rhode Island companies ranging from RI Novelty (300 jobs moved to Fall River) to Point Judith Capital have left without a fight.

While Chafee’s efforts to solve this problem are MIA, the effort by legislative leaders are equally absent. The Rhode Island Congressional delegation has been vocal, but their effectiveness is non-detectable, as the number of Rhode Islanders employed is just above 500,000 and down more than 10% over the past decade.

While Rhode Islanders may debate issues ranging from medical marijuana to holiday trees, the lack of debate and action is intolerable for the tens of thousands of unemployed.

GoLocal names Rhode Island’s unemployed men – fathers, sons, husbands and friends – Man of the Year.


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