Putney’s favorite son and occasional Vermont governor Peter Shumlin, when not found doing yeoman’s work in creating a business climate that produces, what’s the word I’m looking for here….oh, that’s right – jobs….recently used taxpayer money again to tout Vermont as being a “great” place for jobs. In fact, things are so great, he’s announced a campaign to tout the inherent greatness of jobs in Vermont, because apparently the previously-mentioned greatness has been hiding under a rock until Peter stumbled across it, and figured that, hey, why not throw this up on a website and start claiming to be the “jobs” governor?
It’s almost as if Peter has recognized his own greatness in creating Vermont’s inherently great job-creating environment. In fact, he recently claimed that the state has created thousands of jobs in Vermont:
Shumlin says the state has created 11,000 new jobs since he stepped into office in the midst of the economic recession.
Of course, taking a cue from his dear leader, he throws in the “midst of an economic recession” into his claim, because that’s what heroes do –
they qualify their results so as to color a better impression. Courage in gubernatorial leadership positions is such a rare commodity, so even flatlanders can understand the unwavering devotion to Shumlin and his good works.
But, in case Peter bumped his head on something solid, let’s look at the numbers, something done last year when Peter was also making claims about greatness that the actual numbers did not support. Peter came into office in January, 2011. The actual change in job numbers is 7,500 (not seasonally adjusted), not 11,000. Total private sector growth is 4,900, government jobs 2,600. So out of the total job growth, roughly 33% of it is in the public sector. How many of the new private sector jobs created are required to fund the 2,600 new public sector jobs? Greatness is its own reward, it seems, so let’s let Peter speak for himself:
“With the second lowest unemployment rate in the country, we need to make sure people know that we have great jobs in Vermont – and lots of them,” the Governor said at a news conference at the Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. Beverage Technology Center in Waterbury.
Vermont’s unemployment rate is low because we have one of the lowest labor force participation rates in the country, not because there are scads of high-paying jobs lying around, waiting for people to apply for. In fact, there are 850 fewer people participating in the labor force this year compared to last year, so that’s 850 jobs that don’t need to be counted -which makes the unemployment rate look better than the reality Peter wants it to represent.
“Many people have an affinity for Vermont, whether they completed their degree here or just visited for a long weekend, but they may not be aware of the variety of good companies and plentiful job openings available in Vermont,” Gov. Shumlin said. “We’re going to get the word out that Vermont is not only the best place to live and play, but it’s a great place to work as well. We need both Vermonters looking for job opportunities and those from elsewhere who find that they love Vermont to know that this is a great place to work, live and raise a family – and we have jobs available.”
Plentiful. Contrary to what job-seekers will actually tell you, Peter says that there’s a virtual cornucopia of gigs out there, just waiting for the legions of job-hungry Vermonters to snatch ’em up. But even the state’s own 2012-2014 job projections show an aggregate job rate increase of .7% – not even one percentage point of job growth, and a touch over 5,000 new jobs. The top 2 categories for this massive increase in projected jobs? Cashiers and retail salespersons, or roughly 20% of the 5,000 projected job count. These are not the high-paying jobs the governor seems to think are going wildly unfilled in Vermont’s job market – are they? Does Peter know something people who actually work in business
don’t know, that Vermont was recently ranked 39th best (or worst?) for business?
But in more recent and relevant news, the month-over-month job numbers tell us that Vermont has lost 3,000 jobs between March and April 2014. Well, it actually lost 3,200 private sector jobs, but since public sector jobs grew by 200, the net loss is 3,000. So I guess we should say “Great!” and thank our lucky stars that at least some Vermonters are employed, even if those 200 are employed by the tax revenues generated by the rapidly-dwindling number of Vermonters who still have jobs.