In July Vermont’s labor force dropped to its lowest level in 15 years. The labor force comprises people who are employed, including self-employed, and those who are unemployed but actively job hunting. Vermont’s labor force fell to 343,850 last month—the lowest level since July 2002, when it numbered 343,835. The unemployment rate also dropped in July, to 3.1 percent. The decline in the labor force tells us that unemployment shrank not because people found jobs, but because they stopped looking.   New jobs Even while the workforce shrank, employers added 2,800 jobs in thefirst seven months of this year. Read more
Vermont is lucky. Even with divided state government and occasional partisan spats, our leaders on both sides of the aisle can agree that taking health care away from millions of Americans is a bad idea. At a conference I attended in Boise, Idaho last week, state-level policy leaders from around the country discussed the potential impact of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Many of them were fighting to convince their governors, senators, and representatives that slashing Medicaid funding, disrupting the individual insurance market, and putting their constituents’ health in danger would be devastating. Read more

Economist Art Woolf wrote recently that Vermont spends too much on education because taxes are too low for many residents. Woolf was referring specifically to resident homeowners who qualify to pay school taxes as a percentage of their income rather than on the value of their property. According to Woolf, because their income-based taxes are less than their property taxes would be, these homeowners feel like education in Vermont is on sale, so they’re buying more of it.

One problem with Woolf’s hypothesis is that it assumes that the value of a primary residence is a fair and rational indicator of how much each Vermonter should be contributing to the education of our children. It may have been 200 years ago, when the value of a person’s property and possessions was the best measure of his ability to pay. But that isn’t true today, and the system should be brought up to date with today’s economy.

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The latest:
Per-Pupil Education Spending and Tax Rates, Fiscal 2016

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