Overview - Socioeconomic Profile
Socioeconomic Profile - Projected
Introduction | Social
and Demographic Factors | The Economy
| Projected Trends
|Waterfront development along Point
The population of Rhode Island is projected
to grow only slightly over the next couple of decades. Projections
developed by the Census Bureau show the U.S. population growing
by 28 percent, from 262 million persons in the year 2000 to 335
million in 2025, at an average annual rate of 0.8 percent. When
national projections are disaggregated to the state level based
on purely demographic factors, the population of Rhode Island is
projected to grow only by 143,000 persons (14 percent) through 2025,
at an average annual rate of 0.45 percent. When they are disaggregated
to the state level using a methodology that also considers projected
employment, Rhode Island's population is projected to grow
by only 18,000 persons (two percent) through 2025, at an average annual
growth rate of 0.06 percent. The state's own projections of
growth fall between these two extremes, showing an increase of 50,000
persons (five percent) and an average annual growth rate of 0.11 percent.
This does not mean that demographic factors will have little effect on land use patterns for the next 20 years.
In recent decades, development greatly outpaced population growth.
Between 1970 and 1995, the population of Rhode Island grew by only
seven percent but residential land use increased by 57 percent. Much
of this is the result of intra-state migration of the more affluent
from urban centers to lower-density suburban developments. A continuation
of this trend will lead to cities with increasing concentrations
of low-income families in urban centers characterized by declining
property values, increasing tax rates, and a growing number of vacant
lotsthere are already 11,000 vacant lots in the state's
five most densely populated cities (Governor's Growth Planning
This flight to the suburbs can leave deep marks on
the natural environment. Farmland and forests have given way to
highways and, to a far greater degree, homes. Residential use has
been the most rapidly growing category of land use since the 1960s,
despite modest population growth. Furthermore, as Rhode Island's
population migrated toward the rural parts of the state, so did
the employment centers and industrial activities (Rhode Island State
Planning Program 2000).
The greatest short-term (through 2008) gains in employment are
projected in the services,
retail trade, and construction sectors of the economy, with continued
modest declines projected for durable and non-durable manufacturing.
Total employment is projected to increase by almost 60,000 between
1998 and 2008, with 60 percent of the increase occurring in the
services sector, and another 27 percent in retail trade. Modest
growth is projected for other sectors of the economy, except for
government employment, which is projected to decline slightly (Rhode
Island Department of Labor and Training 2000).
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Governor's Growth Planning Council (Rhode Island). 2001.
Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training. 2000. "Rhode
Island 2008: Growth by Major Occupational Cluster" Web page (http://www.det.state.ri.us/webdev/lmi/2008occmaj.html). Providence, Rhode Island.
Rhode Island Statewide Planning Program. 2000. Growth Challenges
for the New Mellenium: Balancing the Options. Rhode Island Department
of Administration, Cranston, Rhode Island.
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