Business & Economy

Vermont unemployment rate falls to 3 percent

Vermont’s unemployment rate fell slightly to 3 percent in August, dropping one-tenth of a percentage point from the July.

The state continues to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, behind North Dakota (2.3 percent), Colorado (2.4 percent), Hawaii (2.6 percent), New Hampshire (2.7 percent ), Nebraska (2.8 percent) and Idaho (2.9 percent).

Lindsay Kurrle, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Labor, said the unemployment rate is another sigh of a “very tight” labor market that is difficult for employers seeking workers.

“A prolonged economic expansion combined with demographic shifts in the Vermont workforce present a challenge to Vermont businesses seeking to attract and retain workers,” Kurrle said in a statement. “Across the state, employers are reporting that they struggle to find talent.”

“The Department of Labor is working with stakeholders and partner agencies to address this labor shortage and ensure that every Vermonter -– regardless of age, experience or education -– has an opportunity for meaningful employment in this state,” Kurrle said. “Jobs are available across the spectrum of experience and education. Our role is to connect hard-working Vermonters with businesses looking to hire.”

The lowest unemployment rates in the state continue to be the Burlington-South Burlington and White River Junction Areas (2.5 percent). The highest continue to be in Derby (4.8 percent) and Bennington (4.4 percent). The state unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted, but the regional rates are not.

The Public Assets Institute, a think tank in Montpelier, said the raw number of unemployed people in August (10,445) was a 16-year low. The Number of unemployed in August 2016 was 11,216, and 10,638 in July.

Additionally, data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that Vermont was the only state to see an increase in how many people are living in poverty in 2016. That’s in part because Vermont saw a sharp drop in poverty in 2015, according to the Public Assets Institute.

Median incomes also remained almost completely flat in 2016, according to the Public Assets Institute. The median income was $57,677 that year, an increase of only .2 percent, adjusted for inflation, lower than the growth in the overall economy.

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Erin Mansfield

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