The Industrial Revolution began early in Rhode Island. The first spinning jenny in the US was built at Providence in 1787; three years later, in Pawtucket, Samuel Slater opened a cotton mill, one of the first modern factories in America. By the end of the 18th century, textile, jewelry, and metal products were being manufactured in the state.
Over 1,000 manufacturers in the state produce finished jewelry and jewelry parts. Prominent manufacturing firms in the state include AT Cross and Shaeffer (pens), Fort (novelty gift and collector items), and Swarovski (rhinestones and crystal boutique items). Hasbro, one of the world's largest toy manufacturers, is headquartered in Pawtucket.
Electronic and related products manufactured in the state include online lottery machines, circuit boards, and meteorological, navigational, and medical equipment. Chemicals and allied products made in the state include pigments and dyes, drugs and biomedical products, and liquid and aerosol consumer products. The total value of shipments of manufactured products in 1997 was $11 billion.
Earnings of persons employed in Rhode Island increased from $16.9 billion in 1997 to $17.9 billion in 1998, an increase of 5.9%. The largest industries in 1998 were services, 32.1% of earnings; durable goods manufacturing, 12.1%; and state and local government, 11.6%. Of the industries that accounted for at least 5% of earnings in 1998, the slowest growing from 1997 to 1998 was nondurable goods manufacturing (7.0% of earnings in 1998), which increased 3.3%; the fastest was finance, insurance, and real estate (7.4% of earnings in 1998), which increased 11.2%.