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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Charlestown unemployment highest among all rural towns in RI (VIDEO)

Fifth worst in the state
CCA response: let's pretend everybody is a rich retiree
Rep. Donna Walsh presents $1000 check to help fill
those empty shelves at RI-CAN
By Will Collette

RI-CAN, the Jonnycake Center or WARM could have told you this already, just based on the surge in demand at their food pantries, but Charlestown’s unemployment rate is alarmingly high at 11.8%, according to RI Department of Labor and Training August statistics.

That’s the worst record among rural RI towns and fifth worst in the state.

Only Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket have higher unemployment rates, and Charlestown is close behind them. There is only a difference of 1.4% between Charlestown’s 11.8% unemployment rate and #1 ranked Central Falls’ 13.2% unemployment.

Over the past two years, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA) has denied the existence of economic trouble in Charlestown, turning down a Democratic plea for tax relief for middle-class families. CCA Councilor Dan Slattery said that without detailed investigation into families’ personal financial circumstances, the town might end up aiding some family “who earns $80,000 a year but just maxed out on their credit cards.”

But CCA's Dan Slattery thinks they just maxed out their credit cards
But based on this new data, it’s more likely families are maxing out on their Food Stamp EBT cards after their unemployment benefits have run out.

Charlestown’s neighbors are doing much better. Westerly’s unemployment rate is 8.3%. South Kingstown is at 9.2%. Richmond is among the state’s lowest at 7.8%.

You can make your own guesses as to why Charlestown’s unemployment rate is so high compared to the rest of the state and especially compared to its neighbors. We have a rapidly aging population, and older workers were hit especially hard in the recession as employers shed high-wage workers. But older workers are also more likely to be retired and not necessarily collecting unemployment benefits, which is what the 11.8% figure represents.

CCA Town Council candidate George Tremblay doesn't
see any problem either
Charlestown is too small to warrant any detailed study that might uncover the causes of our troubling unemployment numbers. The CCA doesn’t seem interested in conducting studies to find out why problems exist – only in studies like George Tremblay’s aimed at “proving Charlestown households don’t have any economic problems.

The top of the CCA's 2012 ticket, Town Council boss Tom Gentz, wants to solve Charlestown's affordable housing problem by redefining each home whose value has dropped to "affordable" levels without doing a damned thing for the people who live in them, who could sure use that tax break that Gentz, Slattery and Councilor Lisa DiBello voted down last December.

But even without more data, I doubt that the CCA’s antibusiness, antifamily policies and economic denialism over the past four years have helped.

The Jonnycake Center, based in Westerly, but providing help to Charlestown families and others in the region, has two upcoming fundraisers. Click here for more details. Click here to learn how you can support Charlestown-based RI-CAN and click here for the WARM Center.

Dedicated to George Tremblay and Dan Slattery. Enjoy: