Low Joblessness Hides More Troubling Signs

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Vermont has gone from a record high of 25,059 people unemployed in May 2009 to a record low of 7,565 unemployed last month. But fewer jobless has not meant more employed. The number of Vermonters at work increased by just 2,782 in the same period, meaning that the labor force—the total of everyone working or actively looking for work—shrank by more than 14,000.

Slow GDP growth
Vermont’s economy, after adjusting for inflation, grew 1.2 percent last year—slightly less than the state’s average real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth over the previous three years. Half of the other New England states did better last year, while the U.S. economy overall grew 2.9 percent. According to government figures released May 1, Vermont’s GDP reached $33.7 billion last year, the smallest among the 50 states.

Trailing incomes
Vermont lagged behind other states in another important economic indicator: growth in per capita personal income. This broad measure of income includes salary, wages, and business income, as well as Social Security, disability payments, and employer retirement contributions. Personal income in Vermont last year totaled $33.6 billion, or $53,598 per person. The per-person growth rate was 2.8 percent, which trailed the rest of New England.

Read the full jobs brief with charts

Public Assets Institute’s mission is to improve the well-being of ordinary citizens, especially the most vulnerable, by conducting research and fiscal analysis, disseminating information, and developing and advancing policies that state government can enact.