9 charts that show how Rhode Island’s next 30 years will be

The R.I. Division of Planning released a new long-term forecast for the state’s population on Thursday, and the news wasn’t particularly good from an economic point of view.

Even under a somewhat optimistic assumption – that 2005-2010 was an outlier period, not a permanent downgrade in direction – Rhode Island is expected to have fewer than 18,000 additional residents in 2040, meaning the size of the population won’t do much for the state’s economic growth.

Here are nine charts and tables from the agency’s report that tell you about Rhode Island’s demographic future.

(But to paraphrase Ebenezer Scrooge, these are the shadows of things that may be and not the shadows of the things that will be: “Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead. But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.” Rhode Island could change course.)

1) Rhode Island’s population won’t rise or fall much until the 2020s. Then it will grow – briefly.


2) That’s because Rhode Island’s aging population will start dying off faster after 2025 …


3) … and fewer younger Rhode Islanders will mean fewer Rhode Island babies …


4) … while migration in and out of Rhode Island will level off at around 7,000 every five years.


5) The share of Rhode Islanders ages 65 and older will jump from 14% to 25% …


6) … which means fewer working-age Rhode Islanders to take care of the oldest and youngest ones.


7) The United States population is expected to grow much, much faster than Rhode Island’s.


8) Cranston will replace Warwick as Rhode Island’s second-largest city between 2015 and 2020.



9) Take all this with a grain of salt – the last set of official Rhode Island projections were way off.


Ted Nesi ( tnesi@wpri.com ) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com and writes the Nesi’s Notes blog. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

14 thoughts on “9 charts that show how Rhode Island’s next 30 years will be

  1. From an economic standpoint, there is very little here in RI to keep the young from running away from this state. The quality of life has diminished. It’s too political of a state and very tight knit, taxes are outrageous, job and professional opportunities are poor, street repair non-existentthe air quality which should be excellent,being an ocean state doesn’t meet federal standards,hence high incidence of lung cancer, cost of living non-commensurate with income, and the schools lagging behind. So I ask you who wants to live in this state? The answer is those who are trapped here. Even the elderly, if they can financially run away because pensions are taxable here

  2. There is no reason to stay in Rhode Island. Some of the other people who posted about quality of life. There is no quality of life in Rhode Island. The taxes are too high, the public sector employees are overcompensated, the welfare is too much, the senior citizens that will stay are the ones who have no assets and are living in the projects collecting social security and medicare.
    Senior citizens who have assets that they earned in the private sector are the people you want in an area. Not the dregs that Rhode Island attracts. The local politician better beaware, without a strong private sector the taxes cannot be raised anymore because their are no reputable companies that will pay the taxes.

  3. R.I. is physically a beautiful state with a wonderful diversity of people. Unlike the Boston and some of its suburbs it also has a small time feel where you can get to know the people around you. The ocean is close and accessible and the climate is varied and interesting.
    If you don’t like the politics here I say you should move to a state that suits you…perhaps where there is more discrimination….(the south) or where the truth and science doesn’t matter…(red states)…or where a woman’s body is owned by a few right wing politicians…or where the poor are forgotten and treated as trash…(the red states again)…You can always move to texas or arizona or florida if you like….Yes our governor is Linc…who is not rick scott, jan brewer, rick santorum or ted cruz…thank god!!!!!!!
    R.I. was found to be the state that is the most caring for all its people…rich or poor…white or purple…Yes and I am proud of that….People in this country can move if they want…I, for one,…and I have been in many other states…think this state has a lot to offer…yes the economy is not number 1…but then again we have industrial regulations and pollution controls as well as a minimum wage and the right to join a union….and a progressive way of thinking….unlike fox news (noise)!!!!!!!!

  4. In 30 years I’ll be 88. Just make sure my soup is hot and the heat works in the winter. Or maybe I’ll move to Florida after retirement.

  5. The RI General Assembly wrote laws in 2004 that mandated each town come up with a plan to grow it’s “affordable housing” stock to a “10% of total housing” level Each community faces an approximate new construction requirement of around 7% of total housing in order to meet the 10% goal.

    Now we find out that the so-called planners are saying that population growth will be stable.

    We all wonder how it is that RI ranks in the toilet in virtually any measure of fiscal prudence. What business in their right mind would ever want to invest in RI with this kind of nonsense?

  6. I’ve lived in a lot of states (NY, CA, FL, OH, TX) and I like RI just fine for its location, relative tolerance for all, quirky practices, food, beaches, bike paths, entertainment, colleges/universities, its relative willingness to help the unfortunate. Even our government is interesting, though we could do with much more of a meritocracy there instead of the who-you-know system that dominates, at least it is close and accessible.
    Folks who only value low taxes might as well move out.

  7. Unions gave us a middle class in the 50s and the 60s….unions were strong and so was the middle class….before that we had child labor, 60 hour work weeks, poor working conditions, no health care etc..etc..etc…and of course the business owners made tons of money. Now with the wane of union power for a variety of reasons including the venom spouted out of right wingers like the Koch brothers, Rush and Hannity…among others… the middle class is disappearing. 2 and 2 makes 4 in my book..no unions and no middle class. But of course I believe in math and science as well and the real world and not some creation of right wing talk shows… If you don’t want to join a union its O.K. …don’t work there! Go to a non union shop…lower pay…no benefits…its all yours!!!!Oh yeah and when they don’t need you they will ship the jobs oversees…I hear there are some openings at a Walmart store in Alabama…go for It!

  8. It will all be over soon. when the private sector middle class have all left the state and the only middle class residents left will be working for the state or local govs The union gov employees will just have to pay each others benefits and
    salary…..every thing will be fine don’t worry about a thing

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