At year-end, some promising news for workers
Vermont closed 2016 with the first year-over-year increase in the labor force in six years. The state’s labor force—people employed and those actively looking for work—grew after the official end of the Great Recession in 2009, then shrank for five straight years. Last month, however, the labor force rose to nearly 345,000, approximately 1,800 more workers than at the end of 2015.
3.1 percent joblessness
Vermont’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.1 percent in December—tying it with Utah for the seventh-lowest rate in the country. In New England, only New Hampshire (2.6 percent) and Massachusetts (2.8 percent) had lower rates. Low unemployment makes for a tight labor market, which should push up wages. Last month 10,600 Vermonters were officially unemployed—that is, without a job and actively looking for work—the lowest number in nearly 16 years.
700 more jobs
After gains last winter and spring and losses in the fall, Vermont’s private sector ended 2016 with about 700 more workers on payrolls than at the end of 2015. The biggest gains were in accommodation and food services, professional and technical services, and health care and social assistance.