R.I. Ranks 29th on National Opportunity Index•
Lori Stabile, PBN Web Editor
PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island ranked 29th on the annual Opportunity Index, released Monday from the national campaign, Opportunity Nation.
Though the ranking slipped a place from 2013 and four places from 2011, the state showed slight improvements in two areas – poverty and disconnected youth.
According to information provided by Opportunity Nation, the poverty rate for all Rhode Islanders was 14.7 percent in 2013 and improved to 13.7 percent last year. Nationally, the poverty rate was 15.9 percent.
Also, the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds who are neither in school nor working also dropped, from 17,399 to 16,150 this year, representing 11 percent. That compares to a national average of 14.1 percent.
With a population of just over 1 million, Rhode Island’s unemployment rate is higher than the nation’s (7.6 percent in September, according to the R.I. Department of Labor and Training, compared with the national average of 5.9 percent), but its median household income is higher at $51,803.60 compared with $48,781.
As for education, the number of children in preschool was nearly identical to the national average (47.7 percent compared with 47.6 percent), but the percentage of high schoolers who graduate in four years was 76 percent, compared with the national average of 81 percent.
The percentage of adults with an associate’s degree or higher was 40.2 percent, compared with 37.1 percent.
Violent crime per 100,000 population in Rhode Island also was lower than the national average, 252.4 compared with 386.9. The number of medical doctors per 100,000 population was 384.46 compared with 270.17 nationally.
And, 23.12 percent of adults ages 18 and over volunteer, compared with 25.49 percent nationally.
Overall, Rhode Island’s score was 53.4 out of 100, compared with the national average score of 52.8. In comparison, Vermont ranked first with a 66.6 score; Massachusetts ranked third with a 62.7 score; Connecticut’s rank was five with a 62 score; New Hampshire, seven, with a 61.4 score; and Maine, 14, with a 58.6 score.
The Opportunity Index provides a snapshot of economic, educational and civic health in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and more than 3,100 counties. Updated annually, the index was developed in partnership with Measure of America.