November 25, 2018

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Worker Shortage Is Suppressing Vermont Job Growth, Economists Say (Anne Wallace Allen, 11/24/18, VtDigger)

Vermont's population is the either oldest or second-oldest in the country, depending on the source of information, meaning many people are retiring right now; and Vermont has one of the lowest birthrates in the country, meaning there are fewer young workers to replace them.

Vermont's population decline is well-known, and the Vermont Department of Economic Development has taken steps to address this with programs that encourage people to move to Vermont.

Woolf said migration into Vermont also is suppressed by high taxes and a housing shortage that drives up prices. The state could be doing more to address that, he said. With labor and materials costs similar to those in other states, "something else is driving housing prices, and that's land development and permitting."

State officials also blame the worker shortage.

"The tight labor market in Vermont is what you are really seeing in this data," said Lindsay Kurrle, commissioner of the state Department of Labor. Most states are seeing worker shortages, but the problem is particularly severe in Vermont because of its small population and its unemployment rate, which has been at or below 3 percent for nine months. The national unemployment rate is 3.7 percent.

"We have less than 10,000 people who are actively trying to find a job, so you don't have the resources to fill vacant jobs," Kurrle said. She said her department is trying to recruit people who traditionally run into barriers to employment, including job-seekers with disabilities, people who were incarcerated and people who live in very rural areas.

"It's really hard to move the needle because you're really working on the hardest to employ," she said.

Posted by at November 25, 2018 8:00 AM

  

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