Since Peter Shumlin, former governor of Vermont (well, he seems to be a former governor, since he’s not spent so much time governing in the last year), seems to have lost his touch in touting the state’s low unemployment numbers. Why? Because they’re lousy, if you crack open the numbers a bit. Now, as Vermont’s unemployment rate spikes 10.8% higher in August (jumping from 3.7% to 4.1%), you won’t see Peter touting Vermont’s low unemployment numbers, as he has so heartily done in the past.
But the spike in unemployment is just the beginning of the worse news. The number of unemployed went up (by 1,300), to the highest level of unemployed in 2014. The labor force participation rate shrank, again, month over month, by 800, which helped the unemployment rate calculation be less bad. Irony is rarely unseen in labor data, obviously.
The trends have been consistent – the labor force participation rate is much lower than the national average, but it has been fairly steady in 2014 at close to 351,000 (2014 average is 350,844). But when the number of unemployed goes up, even relatively little, the impact on the rate is large.
In April 2014, the unemployed number was 11,500. The unemployment rate was 3.28%. But just 4 months later, there are 14,400 unemployed, with virtually the same number in the labor force participation rate, and the unemployment number jumps to 4.11%. That’s an almost 33% jump in the unemployment rate in just four months. And yes, it’s seasonally adjusted data, so the smoothing has already been applied. If you can call that bump smooth.
Even though Peter’s probably possibly primed to pump a penultimate, um, fist in victory this fall in the gubernatorial election, I would think his electoral opponents would want to bring a lot of flashlights with them during debates. Why flashlights? To shine some bright light on the truth of Vermont’s economy. Peter rushes in as fast as his non-gubernatorial duties allow him to when there’s something that can even be remotely touted as good news. So let’s help Peter own his legacy here, and point to the stats he loves to tout – but point to them when they lay bare the truth of Vermont’s struggling, if not dying economy.