Why RI?

Picture1 Today’s Providence Business News reports that only Rhode Island and Michigan lost residents between 2006 and 2008, according to a study by Michigan State University’s Land Policy Institute. PBN states that Providence County placed 19th out of well over 3,000 U.S. counties in population loss during that period, and that Lil’ Rhody’s loss more than doubled Michigan’s in terms of population percentage (our 2,000 residents represented 1.9% of our population, while a whopping 89,844 exiting MI residents comprised a mere 0.9% of theirs).

I’m a bit confused by the 2,000 Rhode Island figure.  The MSULPI study’s full report lists Rhode Island’s loss as 5,855 between 2006-2007 and 2,348 between 2007-2008, meaning it should equal 8,203 lost RI residents.  But hey, I’m willing to believe the PBN has better resources for tracking Lil’ Rhody’s population trends more accurately, given that folks in other states namely view us as a unit of measure.

Anyway, I’m one of few who went against the grain and moved here during the study’s timeframe, and, at least for now, I’m staying.  How about it, Dose readers—what’s keeping you here?

17 thoughts on “Why RI?”

  1. I wish that there was a thumbs up button to click in support of frymaster’s post @dec23

  2. Just to be an absolutely pedantic a$$, the current Census estimate shows RI losing about 800 net residents 2008 – 2009. So let’s plot a chart, shall we?

    07 = -5900
    08 = -2300
    09 = -800

    Pattern emerges?

    In fairness to the self-flaggelators, out-migration (0.67%) was roughly double in-migration (0.33%). And, all you chronic whiners, please do what you can to keep our out-migration numbers looking good in 2010, K? I look forward to reading your twirpy little snipes when they’re sent from such oases of culture as West Virginia or Alabama.

  3. I grew up in Virginia and spent ten years in Cambridge, MA. I moved to Providence about seven years ago, and I love it here. Providence is a great city to live in, and Rhode Island is a wonderful state.

    Providence has many of the amenities of a larger city combined with the navigability of a smaller town. Rush hour here is a blip. Driving across the city takes 15 minutes, driving across the State, 45. We’re only a 45 minute drive or train ride from Boston, and only three hours from NYC. The quality of life here is excellent.

    Rhode Island is a great State. Access to nature, seasons, ability to make a difference: all of these things contribute to a wonderful living experience.

  4. There are many very good schools, if people bother to work at it. (Imagine that, parents – you actually doing something to educate your kids instead of pawning them off on daycare at 7 weeks and then blaming ‘the schools’ cuz there are ‘issues’ when they hit 7th grade.)

    Public-side, Vartan Gregorian is probably the best kept secret in elementary – great school. Ours are all too old now, but Greene looks like a fine facility. They had a lot of music there pre-rehab – is that still part of the curriculum? Classical is a piece of crap building, but the humans in there are well-motivated toward their goals. I have heard that Hope is getting to be a very nice place to be, but that’s just anecdotal.

    On the charter side, there are many great options. Paul Cuffee School is a lottery admission – cool thing about PCS, to honor their namesake, sailing at the CBC is part of the curriculum. PCS = K-8. Times2 is still working towards its goal of getting top-notch performance from students, but that was 4 yrs ago.

  5. I hate when people trash the Schools. I went to Nelson St, G.W. West, and Mt Pleasant they were good for me because I participated. I know a lot of people who went to expensive “good” school and coped out.

  6. Just a couple of comments here.

    1st: the data is a sample-based estimate, which is subject to an error margin. In this case the change falls well within the ~1.7% standard error interval. (upshot: you can’t claim the population is falling using this data)
    2nd: Two points always make a trend. I want to question why the article uses the years 2006-2008? It doesn’t take too much of a stretch to find data that falls outside of the standard error: RI is 20,000 people down from 2004, but 20,000 up from ten years ago. This see-sawing is much more interesting than a simple two year change.
    3rd: …so what? If the losers flee RI the moment the economy gets weak it just means more room for those of us who like it here. Constant growth is for cancers.

  7. Like you, Annie, I moved here during the time in question (2008).

    I chose to move here from the Chicago area to be closer to family (in NY) and the ocean. I haven’t regretted it. I love the state and the city, and have no plans to leave.

    In terms of expenses, I’ve found things to be about even with what I left in Illinois, with only a couple of exceptions. The gas here is considerably cheaper, and insurance (health and auto) is considerably higher.

    As for the politics…I just left Chicago.

  8. Per-capita math on any single statistic for RI is fun but meaningless. It’s the same reason we can win statistics like “most Dunkin Donuts per person”.

    A true measure of whether Providence or RI is stagnating or dying from a people-perspective would include flow (%in/%out), employment status, income, education, source (inter/intrastate, immigrant), age… I’d also want to differentiate metro v. ROS. My guess is the metro is holding up OK.

    As for me, I moved here for the rich cultural context and social networks, quirkiness, and because it’s a place I can make a difference.

    I think the taxes argument is a red herring, but the schools and govt services are hugely problematic. The psychic tax of navigating PPS to handcraft/forcefit a decent education for my kids is “taxing”, and few parents are up for it. These are the “taxes” that kill RI’s potential, the tax of paying private school tuition, chiseling for one of the few good spots in the public schools, or navigating government services systems that make people feel subhuman. Taxes of time and spirit.

    But you’ve got to make your stand somewhere. I choose here.

  9. I’ve been turned on to the opinion that the school doesn’t necessarily make the student, the student and parents make the student. Why do schools in RI underperform? Is it only because of the teachers and school systems or is it also because of the students and the parents? If the parents encourage their children to learn and raise them in a learning environment, the children will do just fine and go on to do great things. If the parents don’t give a crap or don’t have the time to give a crap, the student is on his/her own to push themselves, which isn’t always easy, especially in cramped schools. But while that makes it more difficult for the student, those who shine really shine.

    I moved to RI in 2003 for a job (believe it or not), not really having spent much time here except for Misquamicut (I’m from CT originally). I didn’t know anything about it other than the fact that I was being offered a job. I soon got to know Providence and some other parts of the state and I love it here. I will continue to stay here as long as I can (though I admittedly am considering leaving, but not for MA, CT, or NY… but VT to get out of the rat race of southern New England). Regardless of whether or not I leave RI, I will still love it here. I wouldn’t be leaving for financial reasons (no one leaves where they are for VT because they can’t afford where they are). I wouldn’t be leaving because I hate the politics here (though I do). I would greatly miss this city and state.

    Frankly, as Frymaster put it, I say good riddance to the people who leave. We didn’t need you anyway. There are still people coming here even if there’s a net loss. Some will love it, some will hate it. Those who love it will tell their friends to move here (I’m still telling people to move here and telling the naysayers to shut their traps because they don’t know what they’re talking about). RI has its problems, but what state doesn’t right now?

  10. I grew up in Rhode Island, and I’ve moved away several times for work reasons (NYC twice, Northern Virginia twice). Each of those times, I finagled a work-from-home arrangement that allowed me to return to RI. For the last 8+ years I’ve been working for a company based in California that allows me to work from home in RI.

    I like it in RI. It has a strong sense of place, it’s an easy place to make things happen, and it’s got a lot of places where you can escape to when you need to decompress (the beach, the woods, and even mountains are not far away).

    As I write this, I’m sitting in the apartment in Virginia where I spend a little more than half my time. I’ll be returning to Rhode Island in about a week to spend more than a month at home, and I’m greatly looking forward to that.

  11. As always, I’m a little skeptical about top-line take-aways. For example, these are net numbers, and, granted, it’s a loss and a big one. But are people _only_ leaving? Is nobody new coming in? Where is that study? It is a known fact of economic development that substantial levels of population churn correlate with higher levels of innovation and accompanying growth. It is entirely possible that this exodus of less-educated, less-affluent, less-adaptable people (my WAG, admitted) is actually healthy in the long run. “Better an empty house than a bad tenant.”

    I suggest that the really important thought long term is: Let’s attract ‘the right’ people and lose ‘the wrong’ ones. Oh, that I had a budget to study churn in RI… (I have been a slightly better boy this year, Santa. Waddaya say?)

    Next question: where are they going? If they’re moving from PVD to, say, Rehoboth but keeping a job in RI as Stef and hubby might, the economic loss is substantially mitigated. We don’t lose the property taxes – someone’s gonna pay ’em. We only lose a portion of the income tax, a portion of the sales tax and little things like DMV fees, etc. that don’t add up to much. We keep some of the income tax and some of the sales tax.

    If an unemployed person leaves RI, we lose virtually nothing. They’re already not paying income taxes. And (again my WAG) they’re prolly unemployed because they lack skills. Unskilled labor has been moving south for decades, and people who’d rather change locations than change their skill sets are not what I’d have in mind for a creative / innovation economy.

    So, yeah, we’re losing people, and it makes for “bad press” (which is no reflection on you, Ted ;-). But which ones are leaving and why? Who, if anybody, is coming or staying? And what is the actual economic impact?

    (BTW, Clay, Ken Payne the other night at NESEA said the phenomenon of self-loathing you describe is “trying to flagellate ourselves until we become vital again” to great amounts of laughter. Shades of DaVinci Code albino…)

  12. I think the most talked about subject here is “How I’m going to leave this fucking place,” or “Dear God, I can’t leave this place.”

  13. A+ to you Beth, from the author of the PBN article. I was a bit curious about the numbers, too, but the 2,000 figure came out of the Land Policy Institute so I went with it. But it turns out the Land Policy Institute garbled the numbers, and as you note, it should be the higher figure (about 8,000; not about 2,000).

    Because I calculated the percentage figures myself based on the Census Bureau data, the -1.9 percent is correct. (Or as correct as I can get it.) But the 2,000 figure is not, and I’m going to fix the story.

    Thanks for shaming me into doing some extra due diligence!

  14. My husband and I moved here in 2003. We chose to move here from NYC-no family here. Now with two children we are looking to move to MA for lower property and income taxes and way, way better schools (we do not want private school and can’t afford it anyway). We would like to move to Barrington for the schools, but after the past few years of this horrible economy here, the bills will be due someday soon and that means…raising taxes again. After talking to so many people who have lived here their whole lives and say it “never seems to get better” we need to decide where we want to spend the next 20 years of our lives while our girls go to school.
    so, the only thing keeping us here now is to wait until our home goes back up in value until we can at least break even.
    RI is a beautiful place but without an educated workforce and more business friendly environment to create jobs, well, we know the fate.

  15. Well, I went to Brown to study school reform and stuck around to implement it, but since Tom Brady’s administration quietly stuck a knife in the last decade’s worth of reform in Providence, my wife and I are trying to figure out how quick we can get her pension vested, sell this house and get out of here.

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