The monthly unemployment rate in Vermont nudged down in November to 4.4 percent.
The one-tenth percent shift in the seasonally adjusted estimate since October was not statistically significant. It puts the state in a four-way tie for the fourth lowest rate in the country, alongside Hawaii, Iowa and Wyoming. The national rate is 7 percent.
Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan said that, despite “ups and downs” and slow growth, the general trend in jobs numbers has been positive. That said, she acknowledges that not all Vermonters enjoyed economic progress.
“(T)his Department is committed to working with anyone who needs our help, whether they are unemployed, under-employed, or in need of education or training to move them to a livable wage,” Noonan wrote in a release. She encouraged anyone looking for career guidance or job placement assistance to contact one of the 12 Career Resource Centers around the state.
In raw numbers, about 15,350 people are unemployed. That’s 600 fewer unemployed than the month before, and 2,300 fewer than this time last year. The state has a potential labor force of 350,800 workers.
According to the Labor Department, leisure and hospitality job growth can be thanked in part for the dip. Some job creation in manufacturing also helped, while state government and financial services payroll numbers declined, as did employment in wholesale trade.
State economist Tom Kavet said the Federal Reserve Bank’s Dec. 18 announcement reflects faith in the nation’s economic recovery. In a nearly unanimous vote, the Fed’s board of governors agreed to begin tapering off their current bond-buying program, which had been designed to help carry the economy through the recession.
“I think it’s a very favorable development that the Fed thinks they can reduce their support a little bit,” Kavet said. He noted, however, that the sole dissenting voice on the board was Eric Rosengren, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, whose job it is to monitor New England’s economic health.
According to a release from the Fed, Rosengren wanted to see more evidence of growth “likely to be sustained above its potential rate” before taking the monetary policy off its crutches.
“New England is not performing particularly poorly relative to the rest of country,” said Kavet, who sits on an advisory board for the Boston Fed. “But his perspective was it needed a little more time.”
As measured by a broader definition of unemployment, which takes into consideration people who are underemployed or who have given up looking for work, Vermont’s unemployment rate is about 9.4 percent of the labor market.
The national rate by the same measure, called U-6, is 14.1 percent.