You Can’t Polish A Press Release – Or Can You?
Annie Noonan, the Vermont Department of Labor’s Commissioner, posted the latest overwhelmingly fantastic unemployment rate on May 17, and included a press release which seems to seek an amplification of just how fantastic Vermont’s job market really is:
“The Vermont unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since late 2007, and it has been a slower than normal recovery due to the depth and length of the national recession.”
Ah. Everything must be OK then. However, Vermont also has 1,600 fewer Total Nonfarm jobs between April 2007 and April 2013. Total Private sector jobs are 2,350 lower than April 2007. The Government sector grew by 750 jobs in that same period.
So while comparing today’s job market to 2007 might be convenient, the data shows that the unemployment rate does not indicate a) a healthy economy, b) net new job growth, or c) growth in jobs in the private sector. Private sector job growth is the critical metric, and by all measures, that number decreases over time in Vermont. If Vermont’s economy is doing so well, why is it ranked 36th in median household income?
“We are still very pleased to have the third lowest unemployment rate in the country.”
Of course you are. Although the number of people participating in the workforce actually went down by 600 from March to April. Are you still very pleased by this number? Are the 50 additional unemployed people also pleased? Had the 600 people not dropped out of the labor force, the unemployment rate would have ticked up to 4.2%. Would you still be pleased?
“We want to reach all Vermonters who are unemployed or under-employed, as well as new graduates and those who want to make Vermont their home, to help them connect with Vermont employers.”
Does someone with a fresh (and minty) Bachelor’s degree need help from the State of Vermont to find an employer? Really? The state is either aswarm with so many employers that the potential job-seeker needs help winnowing out the field of potential employers, or there are so few businesses hiring that the state has to provide a map to their locations so the recent graduate can peek in through the windows.
New graduates leave the state of Vermont at one of the highest rates in the country. They don’t need help finding employers; that list is so short everyone already knows who the businesses are if they can walk and chew gum at the same time. Who really needs help here? The State of Vermont needs help in changing its long-held public policies so businesses can grow here, so Vermonters aren’t forced to leave their state to find a decent job. Better yet, they’re not forced to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, which also helps keep that magical unemployment rate artificially low.
“The Department of Labor’s 12 regional Career Resource Centers can provide information about which companies are hiring, as well as what job skills will be in demand in the future.”
In case the DoL missed it: The Internet! New graduates don’t need you. In fact, they need to keep more of whatever dollars they’re earning because Vermont’s cost of living is so high. In order to help them, why not reduce taxes by the total spent on the DoL’s non-help here, and they’ll thank you for it. Hell, they might even stay in the state.
“Vermont must build a workforce resilient to economic contractions; and education and job training for all workers are keys to this goal.”
Vermont must build a business environment that makes companies want to site and stay here – and then the jobs will follow. I didn’t realize the state’s mission was to “build a workforce”, resilient or not – and if all the money spent on education isn’t building us anything, then why are we asked (or rather, told) to spend more on it each year?
“April 2013 represents the ninth consecutive month without an increase to the unemployment rate in Vermont.”
But it represents a continued reduction in the number of people participating in the workforce, which is why the unemployment rate goes down. When 600 people leave the workforce, and you lose 50 jobs, your unemployment rate goes down. Which might constitute great news for someone living in an alternate reality, but for the rest of us – it’s more of the same.