By Bill Moore
Hockey season has ended. The NBA has declared its champion. Baseball is in full swing. Warmer temperatures have finally settled over the land, along with some relatively sunny days. It seems like normalcy has returned to the realm.
Normalcy at the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce means that we have received our latest copy of Congressional Quarterly’s annual report, “State Rankings 2019.”
The Central Vermont Chamber, along with a coalition of likeminded businesses, Chambers and Associations, has been lobbying to create a pro-business, pro-growth, pro-jobs economy. We believe that creating a climate that encourages investment in the state will lead to market-driven, better, higher paying jobs. “State Rankings 2019” points out that we still have a long way to go.
The tome compares the most currently available statistics and creates simple rankings of the states and District of Columbia in 566 tables.
While listing all of Vermont’s rankings would be too lengthy to present here, I have taken some of the rankings as representative of the challenges facing the state. Here goes.
We come in at the bottom of the list for crimes committed (9,994) and violent crimes (1,034), 49th in terms of crime rate per 100,000 population (1,602.5). Other significant indicators of crime put us in the range of 45th – 50th. This, despite ranking 40th for officers per 10,000 population.
In terms of agriculture, Vermont has 7,300 farms landing us in 43rd place. We come in at 42nd with 1.250 million acres of farmland. Our average farm size ranks 39th at 171 acres. The per-acre value nationally is $3,140 and in Vermont, it valued at $3,400 (25th ), an increase in value of 1.2 percent over the previous year. The net farm income in Vermont totaled $228,883,000 and is ranked 40th with an average of $31,293 (20th).
Our gross domestic product of $32,545,200,200 puts us dead last, but our year-over-year change in GDP of 3.7 percent puts us in 37th place for growth. Our per capita state exports of $4,792 finds us in 11th place. On the other hand, our per capita imports ($5,749) rank us 19th . Our per capita personal income of $52,225 (19th) compares to the national rate of $51,640. Per capita disposable income of $46,781 ($45,400 nationally) finds us in 18th place.
The average annual pay in Vermont is $46,186, ranking us 35th. The average hourly rate for production workers of $21.30 has us in 23rd place ($27.30 nationally). We rank second-to-last in terms of job growth (.1 percent).
Our energy prices at $20.40 per million BTUs have us nearly the highest in the nation at number seven. An average of $64,806 for the average monthly Vermont industrial electric bill is the third highest in the country. We ranked 43rd for electricity generated through renewable sources. We are 37th for the average price of natural gas delivered to commercial customers and 9th for the same delivered to residential customers.
Looking at taxes, we have the 18th highest per capita adjusted gross income ($30,964). We are fourth for state and local tax revenue as a percent of personal income, fifth for per capita state and local tax revenue and fourth for state and local tax burden as a percent of income.
We have the lowest pupil-teacher ratio in public elementary and secondary schools of 10.8 against a national ratio of 16. Fourth graders proficient or better in reading (43 percent) ranks us third in the nation; eighth graders are also ranked third (45 percent). The proficiency or better for fourth graders in math is ranked 15th (42 percent) while the numbers for eighth grade are 39 percent (10th). Per capita state and local expenditures for education ranks Vermont third at $4,295. The average student costs at public institutions of higher education are $26,786 putting us second. We rank 6th for percent of population graduated from high school (92.6) and 7th for percentage with a bachelor’s degree or more (38.3).
There are enough statistics in “State Rankings 2019” to keep interested readers busy through the summer. Many of the rankings are so striking that the book should be mandatory reading for all legislators.
Bill Moore is president and CEO of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce.