Vermont: A shining economic city on the hill. Well, after you’re done laughing, all that’s left is to mop up the tears and the patchouli, and
either move on, or move out.
The sad part of Vermont’s slow-rolling economic demise is that its politicians, its heroes of Progressivism ™ like Peter Shumlin, point to certain statistics as proof that policies are working, that Vermont is a “great” place for jobs, and that inaccurate reporting makes Vermonters leave Vermont to seek their fortunes. Vermont makes frequent appearances on the annual Worst Economic Indicators surveys, while other states like North Carolina, which have different points of view about the size and scope of government, and make frequent appearances in surveys of Fastest Growing States, Fastest Growing Cities, or 3rd Fastest-Growing State for Women-Owned Businesses. It’s not an accident.
Let’s check in on the realities of that Shumlin premise , and compare 10-year snapshots of economic data comparing Vermont to North Carolina, using January as the annual snapshot date.
First up: Labor Force. Vermont’s labor force is now sporting its lowest total number since 2005 – which, as we’ll show below, is the one and only thing keeping the state’s unemployment percentage rate low. In fact, Vermont’s labor force is in a 5-year nosedive:
Next, let’s look at Employment. The comparison below seems to run counter to Peter Shumlin’s continuing, well, exaggerations about what a “great” place Vermont is to work. How can you claim that the state has jobs when the total number of employed is continually going down?
How do the two states compare in Unemployment? As you might expect, both states were smacked around by the recession. But where Vermont and North Carolina part ways is that both Vermont’s unemployment and employment decreased. North Carolina’s unemployment decreased, and its employment (above) increased. That means that North Carolina’s residents found work, and went back to work.
Vermont’s residents? Well, not so much.
Finally, the Unemployment Rate itself is just a reflection of the total number of unemployed and the labor force, so it follows a similar trend to the above. Vermont’s low rate, though, does not reflect a thriving economy – the rate itself hides the fact that the labor force is declining.
Yet Vermont’s Vermont Dept Labor Nov 2015 Release, even with the data showing that the 3.7% rate is entirely dependent on people leaving the workforce:
In fact, if you look at the November 2014 to November 2015 employment by category, 30% of the job gains made YOY were in Government (with the biggest gains in State government). The same public sector that can only take from the private private sector, the sector where fewer and fewer people are employed.
In fact, in the private sector, 2,000 of the 2,800 jobs gained were in Education and Health Services, and the bulk of those 2,000 jobs (1,700) were in Health Care and Social Assistance. All other private sector categories are either negative or virtually flat.
Vermont’s next governor has what might be turning into an insurmountable task: Righting Vermont’s economic ship of state, one that has decades of negative “progressive” momentum built up behind it, such as:
After a certain point, Vermonters might start asking themselves why their political leaders paint such a rosy economic picture, when the reality for Vermonters, on the ground, is something entirely different. Especially when the people telling them everything’s great are the ones who are paid in the Government category of decreasingly employed Vermonters.