A table is set with a menu and utensils as part of the RI Hospitality Association's event.

RI Hospitality Assoc: Growth of Rhode Island’s economy to continue at slower pace in 2024

RI Hospitality Association’s 20th Annual Economic Outlook Breakfast Predicts Slowed Industry Growth in 2024. With inflation easing but still elevated, industry experts say the growth of Rhode Island’s economy will continue at a slower pace in 2024.

The Rhode Island Hospitality Association (RIHA) hosted its 20th Annual Economic Outlook Breakfast for hospitality industry professionals at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, Rhode Island. 

Industry analysts predict that by 2024, Rhode Island’s restaurant and lodging industries will experience modest growth as inflation eases but remains elevated, and as supply chain and workforce/labor shortages continue.

This year’s panelists included Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of the Research & Knowledge Group at The National Restaurant Association (NRA); Rachel Roginsky, Principal of Pinnacle Advisory Group; and Heather Singleton, Chief Operating Officer of RIHA and the RI Hospitality Education Foundation (RIHEF). 

According to Roginsky, Rhode Island’s lodging industry is projected to see a modest boost by the end of 2023, experiencing a YTD RevPAR (revenue per available hotel room) of $106.79 this year versus $103.37 in 2022. Roginsky analyzed the lodging markets in Providence, Warwick, Newport, and Middletown. Providence is projected to see a significant increase of 15% in RevPAR from 2022, while Warwick’s RevPAR is predicted to only increase 0.4% from last year, despite passenger counts continuing to increase at T.F. Green International Airport. On Aquidneck Island, Newport should see a nearly 1% increase and Middletown should see a 0.1% increase in RevPAR.

Heather Singleton, who spoke on behalf of RIHA/RIHEF, discussed key statistics affecting the Rhode Island labor force, as well as leisure and hospitality employment on a national scale. According to the findings presented, Rhode Island’s unemployment rate in July dropped to 2.8% from 3.2% in July 2022. Uncharacteristically, the United States’ unemployment rate in July came in at 3.5%, which is the same stat that was reported in July 2022.

Singleton’s findings suggest that hospitality labor shortages and rising labor costs will persist and potentially worsen due to global economic pressures in 2024. Her presentation examined stats around employee retention and satisfaction, it looked at how Generation Z is affecting the workforce, and it highlighted various available resources for employee recruitment and retention. Among these resources is the “Rhode Island Hospitality Jobs” website, a convenient resource for its hospitality members to post job openings and for job seekers to easily identify local opportunities in the industry through the use of a simple search tool; RIHEF’s Cook Apprenticeship Program; and more.

Hudson Riehle addressed the economic backdrop and performance of the restaurant and food service industry nationally. According to Riehle, the industry’s growth will likely advance at a slower pace throughout the remainder of 2023 and will continue to advance in 2024 with strong geographic variations. 

According to National Restaurant Association-polled restaurant operators, some of this year’s biggest challenges for restaurant operators include employee recruitment, sales volume, labor costs, food costs and availability, and the economy. According to Riehle, hospitality job openings across the country totaled approximately 1.065 million in July 2023. The growth of labor costs continues to accelerate with average hourly earnings increasing by 6.4% in 2023, compared to 9.0% in 2022, 9.4% in 2021.

While inflation is likely to decelerate in 2024, economic growth is expected to be more moderate. Additional national restaurant industry findings suggest that a greater emphasis will be placed upon food delivery, carry-out, drive-thru service, alcohol, new business models, cost management, value-added products, and digital services/products.

Photos from the event can be seen here:

About the RI Hospitality Association (RIHA):

With more than 900 foodservice, hotel, vendor, and other hospitality members in Rhode Island, the RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) has been the voice of the hospitality industry in the state since 1963. For more information on RIHA, please call (401) 223-1120, or write to: RI Hospitality Association, 94 Sabra Street, Cranston, RI, 02910, or visit

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