Vermonters are poorer. Does Montpelier care?
The Census released new information Thursday—pooled from surveys taken during 2010, 2011, and 2012—that paints a discouraging picture about Vermonters’ economic well-being five years after the Great Recession hit. Key Census indicators related to employment, income, and poverty are all worse than they were before the recession.
- The number of Vermonters who are working has gone down by about 4,600.
- The number of people who are no longer in the labor force has gone up by almost 9,800. Some of those people may have retired. But some just got discouraged and stopped looking for work.
- Median family income and median household income were down slightly from pre-recession levels, after adjusting for inflation.
- Vermont families, single mothers, single mothers with young children, and various age brackets all fell further into poverty. Only Vermonters 65 and over did not get poorer.
Creating jobs, increasing wages, and reducing poverty are daunting tasks. But in the run-up to the 2014 legislative session, these problems don’t appear to be on anyone’s priority list. Based on recent interviews, legislative leaders are worried about balancing the budget, not about reducing poverty in the state. The news media, too, seem more interested in where the budget is going to be cut than in what to do about the people who’ve dropped out of the labor force or how to close the growing income gap.
But we’re not going to improve Vermonters’ well-being if we don’t acknowledge the problems and start taking steps to address them. Who wants to lead?
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