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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Job listings and more

South County economy: Jobs and housing still the big problems
By Will Collette

Even though the state’s economy is bouncing back from the great Recession, South County and Charlestown in particular, are not bouncing back as quickly as the rest of the state.

Over the past several months, Charlestown’s unemployment rate has dropped three full percentage points from our 2014 annual average, going from 8.7% to 5.7% in June. 

That’s great news, but we can and should do better. Even though our rate has dropped, we are still higher than the statewide average and we still have an average of 250 Charlestown households have at least one adult who is unable to find a job.

We need more jobs in Charlestown itself (since we have no link to public transportation) and that means we need new and expanded businesses. Charlestown’s reputation as an anti-business town was reinforced by its over-the-top negative reaction to just the idea of a Dollar Store opening a store in Charlestown.

We’re also seeing mixed results in our local housing market. High-end home sales near the water are surging so far this year, lifting the state’s real estate market to almost pre-recession levels. That is good news for sellers of one million dollar-plus homes, but not so much for the rest of the market.

Specifically for Charlestown, home values have gone flat, according to, showing ZERO growth over average home values last year. And worse, Zillow is forecasting a 0.2% drop over the next 12 months. This comes after pretty steady recovery in Charlestown since mid-2012.

According to Zillow, the average Charlestown home is worth $322,500 compared to our high reached in January 2006 of $405,000.

The other problem area for Charlestown is an uptick in home foreclosures after a string of quarters with no foreclosures at all. According to HousingWorksRI, Charlestown has had three foreclosures in the first quarter of 2015, ranking Charlestown as #18 among Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns for foreclosures.

South County also needs improved infrastructure. It was nice to see the worst half of Route 1 through Charlestown get repaved, but we still have the third worst roads in the country. It will take a lot more money and time to put our roads and bridges back into safe condition, and more still to make them comparable to our neighboring states. But the good news is that taking on such work will put lots of people to work.

Charlestown now knows it has water supply problems and may have to turn to the state Water Resources Board, the agency the CCA Party once reviled, for help in ensuring residents south of Route One have clean drinking water. 

And we will need a lot of help to cope with the effects of shoreline loss resulting from climate change that may jeopardize as 26,000 homes along the Rhode Island coast line.

She can afford it.
We need these things even if it means taxing out-of-state truckers and absentee landlords, two groups that seem to have protected status with our state Rep. Blake “Flip” Filippi (Independent-Tea Party-Militia-Republican from either Lincoln, Providence or Block Island) as well as the Charlestown Citizens Alliance. I was happy to see the legislature enact the new tax on seasonal rental properties so that they are treated the same way as other short-term accommodations. It’s only fair.

I was disappointed that the “Taylor Swift Tax,” a state property surcharge on million dollar-plus properties owned by non-residents failed to be enacted. I know that, again, the CCA Party and Flip Filippi were aghast at the idea of taxing non-residents since in the CCA’s case, they count on non-residents for most of their funding, and in Flip’s case, he is a non-resident himself.

I’ve put my own ideas for practical things the town of Charlestown has the means, authority and ability to do for the betterment of our town’s economy, business health and employment of our citizens. The CCA’s solution to all problems is to buy more open space.

While this debate rages, the one practical thing we can do here at Progressive Charlestown is to pass along tips on where to find work. I monitor Brown University’s daily posting of jobs in the non-profit sector, especially for jobs in South County, and watch other sources as well. Here is what I found:

The statewide Northeast Organic Farming Association of Rhode Island (NOFA/RI) wants to hire an Organic Outreach Coordinator and an Organic Materials List Coordinator. Click here for more details.

The Rhode Island Democratic Party is looking for interns to work starting now and through the upcoming 2016 political campaign. Interested participants should call the state party office at 401.272.3372 to indicate interest, and submit a resume and cover note to  For more information, please call 401.272.3367 or visit

Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) is accepting applications for interns in his Rhode Island and Washington, DC, offices for the fall semester. This unpaid program is open to civic-minded college students who are available for at least 10 hours per week. A qualified candidate will be well-organized, responsible and dependable, and have strong oral and written communication skills. Responsibilities include answering phone calls, drafting constituent correspondence and supporting staff members on various projects. College credit is available, if approved by the institution. For more information, visit Langevin.House.Gov and click on the Internships prompt under “Serving You,” on the homepage.

To sign up for daily alerts from Rhode Island Community Jobs on jobs with non-profit groups, please click here. Rhode Island Community Jobs is sponsored by the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University.