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

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