By David Flemming
Vermont is falling behind the rest of the United States economically. Many Vermonters have been well aware of this for a while now. But news of our lackluster economy has reached the shores of the United Kingdom.
The Economist, published in London, England, is a left-leaning magazine. It recently published an article entitled: “The road not taken: As wages grow across America, one state is left behind.” Any guesses? Yup. Vermont.
The author writes, “on both a per-hour and per-week basis, Vermont has seen the weakest wage growth of any state in the past decade, despite a rapid rise in the minimum wage and low unemployment. Real wages remain lower than they were when the last recession ended. What has Vermont got wrong that much of the rest of America has got right?”
Notice how they mention “a rapid rise in the minimum wage” in the same breath as “real wages remain lower.” That’s not possible unless you raise the minimum wage and employers are forced to cut back hours, resulting in less pay per week.
The article concludes that “weak earnings growth is in part the product of a relatively weak economy. In the past decade Vermont’s gdp has grown at two-thirds the rate of America’s. Critics point to a mountain of red tape and regulation. The state comes close to the bottom of various indices of ‘economic freedom’ produced by libertarian think-tanks. These may be rough and ready (ie: crude but effective) but, when it comes to the regulation of land, small-government types may have a poi.”
And, yes, I bring this up in the week our legislators voted to both increase the minimum wage and “reform” Act 250 by making it more expensive, complicated, and uncertain to comply with on purpose.
Sometimes all it takes is for a legislator or neighbor to hear something from an objective voice to change their mind. The Economist has given Vermonters as objective an insight as they are likely to find. Before Vermont can move its economy forward, a sizable number of us will have to realize the true costs of overregulation.
David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.