- Associated Press - Saturday, January 25, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - From the unemployment rate ticking up to the ongoing governor’s race to debate over the labeling of genetically modified food, here are five things to know in Rhode Island:

UNEMPLOYMENT UP SLIGHTLY

Rhode Island’s jobless rate increased to 9.1 percent in December, up from 9 percent the month before as the state shed 1,500 jobs. The increase was slight, but it was another unwelcome statistic in a state that has long struggled with one of the nation’s highest jobless rates. The U.S. unemployment rate for December was 6.7 percent.

PROPOSALS TO BOOST ECONOMY

In response to the state’s lagging economy, leaders in the Senate unveiled a series of proposals on Tuesday that would direct more spending to workforce development programs. And on Thursday, the Rhode Island Foundation and the state’s Commerce Corp. released a report recommending that the state increase investment in tourism, marine industries and other industries while focusing on training highly skilled workers and helping startups more easily access capital.

STORM BRINGS SNOW, LOW TEMPS

A storm dumped several inches of snow on Rhode Island on Tuesday and Wednesday and left bitter temperatures in its wake. State police responded to more than 40 car crashes, and nearly two dozen flights were canceled Wednesday morning at T.F. Green Airport. It was the second significant snowstorm of the year in Rhode Island.

RI LAWMAKERS PITCH GMO LABELING

Some Rhode Island lawmakers are calling on the state to require food producers to label any products containing genetically modified ingredients. Currently only Maine and Connecticut have such rules, though they won’t take effect until other states join them. State Rep. Dennis Canario says his bill to require labeling of so-called GMOs is an attempt to empower consumers. But opponents, including many food producers and biotech companies, say requiring labels would give the impression that genetically modified food is unsafe, when scientific studies have shown no evidence they are any more harmful than traditionally produced food.

MINIMUM WAGE A FACTOR IN RACE

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras announced Thursday that he wants the state to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2018. Hours later, Treasurer Gina Raimondo said she’d like to see the wage rise to $10.10 next year. The two Democrats are running to succeed Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who is not seeking a second term. The field could widen Tuesday, when Clay Pell, the grandson of the late U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell, announces whether he will seek the Democratic nomination for governor. Meanwhile, two Republican gubernatorial candidates - Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and businessman Ken Block - said a wage increase would increase business costs and lead to fewer jobs.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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