Flemming: Vermont goes from best to worst unemployment in US

By David Flemming

Just six months ago, Vermont had the lowest unemployment rate in the nation. COVID-19 and the federal, state and local reaction to it has vaulted Vermont past all 49 other states by most any measure, placing our economy on an unemployment precipice.

The famous “unemployment rate” is often used as a barometer to diagnose the health of a state’s labor force. Those classified as “unemployed” are calculated as some fraction of the state’s overall labor force. When this figure stays stable, it is an excellent metric to reference how well the economy is doing. That begins to get at the bad news: Vermont has the second highest traditional unemployment rate, behind only Michigan.

But when something sudden like COVID-19 hits, there are other metrics we should look at. The traditional “unemployment rate” lags behind claims data, giving us the false impression that Vermont is weathering the storm. That’s why we should an “Unemployment Claims Rate,” which takes into account all of those receiving unemployment insurance, as well as those who have just applied.

Vermont has the highest percentage of its labor force receiving and asking for unemployment insurance in the entire US. Using data from the week ending April 25, the most recent date available, 5000 Vermonters filed for unemployment the first time, with 76,500 already receiving unemployment on an ongoing basis. This means 81,500 workers of Vermont’s 342,000 labor force are in employment limbo. That 23.8% number is nearly twice as high as the average across the US: 13.1%.

How does Vermont compare to its New England neighbors? While 4 of 5 New England states are doing worse than the US average, Vermont’s 23.8 % is still more than double Maine’s 11.4%, 8.0% higher than New Hampshire, 7.8% more than Mass., and 5.8% higher than Connecticut. The only other New England state in the top 10 for claims rate nationwide is Rhode Island, and R.I. sits below 20%.

Vermont’s rate of new COVID-19 cases has started to level off, which we can be thankful for. Unfortunately, our economy has suffered far more than most other states on the employment front.

David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Public domain
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6 thoughts on “Flemming: Vermont goes from best to worst unemployment in US

  1. New Hampshire’s economy will recover faster than Vermont, and grow faster than Vermont, because New Hampshire has much less government spending per capita, and:

    New Hampshire does not tax income from wages, salary, etc
    New Hampshire does not tax Social Security retirement and disability benefits
    New Hampshire does not tax normal withdrawals from IRAs
    New Hampshire does not Required Minimum Distributions from IRAs
    New Hampshire does not tax capital gains due to selling stocks and bonds.

    New Hampshire taxes interest and dividend income at 25%

    New Hampshire has no inheritance tax, i.e., NO DEATH TAXES.

  2. Not sure what that chart proves. Be interested in seeing the rest of the data such as what jobs were lost in all states listed. What kind of jobs still exist. For example, if a preponderance of lost jobs in Vermont were in the food service industry, one can understand the high unemployment rate.

  3. Another Vermont first place finish. And dis taint de end folks. Wonder what the conditions will be when VT is bankrupt. The state can’t file bankruptcy, individual towns and people can. The state being controlled by one party is the result and is deep in debt. For years the Flatland Socialists in Montpelier just kicked the financial ball down the street without any regard to common sense.

    Wonder if VT will be in first place population wise for the number of abortions, drug cases, etc. One way out is to print money like the Feds or perhaps generate their own style of bitcoin. Increasing taxes isn’t going to solve VT’s money problems, only the cleaning of people and mentality in Montpelier.

  4. Way to go proggies, dems, rino and commies…our function-less government at work..Keep
    electing these failures and VT will continue to lead in failing…

    • We can’t elect people to replace the failures if we have no republicans on the ballots. In 2018 we had 79 republicans running out of a possible 150 and all of the name calling and finger pointing is in vain if we don’t use all our energy finding people to run. Please consider this. Push your family, friends,family of friends and friends of family to get on the ballots. We won more than we lost in the races that we ran in 2018. Our message is not lost on Vermonters. We just need to focus on the real problem. Not enough candidates.

      • It depends on where in Vermont we’re talking about. In Chittenden County the socialist/communist voters are brainwashed to vote only for democrats and progressives. So much so that many races have only one candidate. These people wouldn’t vote for their own mother if she was running as a Republican. Lost cause.

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