More payroll jobs, yes. Economic security, not so much
Vermont’s employment picture brightened little during 2012. The December unemployment rate, 5.1 percent, was exactly what it had been in January 2012. There was good news: The monthly survey of employers showed nearly 4,000 new private sector jobs over the year. And bad news: The monthly household survey showed 3,200 fewer Vermonters, including the self-employed, were working at year’s end.
A long wait for unemployed workers
It will take another 18 months or more for Vermont to recover all the jobs it lost in the Great Recession. That’s according to a December forecast from the New England Economic Partnership (NEEP). Vermont shed approximately 13,000 non-farm payroll jobs from December 2007 to July 2009 and has regained more than two-thirds of them. The rest won’t return until the second half of 2014, says Jeffrey Carr, state economist and Vermont’s NEEP representative.
3SquaresVT’s grim milestone
Despite some signs that the economy is improving, the number of Vermonters needing help to buy food continues to grow. In November, participants in 3SquaresVT—Vermont’s name for the food stamp program—exceeded 100,000 for the first time. It’s an indication, cited in Public Assets’ recent State of Working Vermont 2012, that policymakers can’t just look at the number of jobs to see how Vermonters are doing. They need to focus on the quality of those jobs—including wages—and ensure that public services are adequately funded.