Rhode Island is tied for the highest unemployment rate in the nation. What's got this state down while its neighbors are looking up?
Rhode Island is tied for the highest unemployment rate in the nation. What's got this state down while its neighbors are looking up? - 
Listen To The Story
Marketplace

Tomorrow, we'll find out how many people applied for unemployment benefits last week. That number has been trending downward as the economy has improved around the country. But the job market isn't getting better everywhere. In Rhode Island, the unemployment rate remains at 9.8 percent -- tied for the highest in the nation with California.

Leonard Lardaro, professor of economics at the University of Rhode Island, shares his top three reasons why Rhode Island is lagging behind.

1. Unfriendly to businesses. Rhode Island ranked as the worst state for business in 2012 according to a CNBC survey of all 50 states. Lardaro says Rhode Island's leaders need to reform the state's tax and cost structure to compete.

2. Lacks high quality K-12 education. Rhode Island ranked 20th in education. Neighbors Massachusetts and Connecticut ranked 1st and 5th respectively. Lardaro says this leads to a lack of skilled labor.

3. Compares poorly to neighbor states in tech jobs. According to Lardaro, Rhode Island has had a declining population since 2004, as residents leave for jobs in other states such as Massachusetts. And of those that do live in Rhode Island, many commute to a neighboring state for work. Lardaro says this brain-drain leaves Rhode Island with an uneven and insecure economy.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Jeremy Hobson at @jeremyhobson