Fiscal outlook remains bleak for RI

Steve Peoples has the details from today's Revenue and Caseload Estimating Conference at the State House.

"The worst is not over by any means," said Mike Lynch, an analyst with the firm Global Insight. "We see little cause for any optimism."

Global Insight predicts that Rhode Island's unemployment rate will exceed 7 percent through the end of next year, among the highest in the nation. The Ocean State's real estate markets wil "continue their period of free-fall well into 2009." And Global Insight predicts it will take another five years before Rhode Island sees employment levels matching "pre-2007 peak employement levels."

To make matters worse, the economists who testified this morning acknowledged that their forecasts may be too rosy, given that they were based on data that's almost a month old.

The firms agreed to return to the House Finance Committee room in the State House basement -- the site of today's hearing -- on Nov. 7 to provide updated reports.

The Revenue & Caseload Estimating Conference is really a series of meetings in which the fiscal leaders of the House, Senate and governor's budget office convene to determine the economic health of the state.

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