Private employers added 600 jobs in July. So far this year, the private sector has created 3,000 new jobs, showing growth for the last four straight months. Unemployment held steady at 2.1 percent for the third straight month, and Vermont’s labor force has increased every month this year.

The share of Vermont workers with two or more jobs ranked second highest in New England in 2018. Although high for New England, the rate of Vermont workers with multiple jobs—6.5 percent, or 22,000 people—was the state’s lowest since reporting began in 1994. Falling unemployment since 2010 may be increasing the hours available to employees, making one job enough. The number of part-time workers looking for full-time work also has declined.

For all the fun of summer vacation—creemees, camping, swimming, and sun—it brings a host of challenges for Vermont families. With the end of the school year, working parents scramble to find and pay for childcare. And for families with children who aren’t yet school-age, it’s a year-round struggle.

But an increase in the Child Care Financial Assistance Program (CCFAP) funding this summer will alleviate some of this financial stress. On July 21st the state will boost child care subsidies, providing more financial assistance for low-income families.

This increase is long overdue. From 2010 to 2017, the average cost of care grew 35 percent for pre-school age children, while state reimbursement rates grew just 3 percent and have not changed since 2014.

There may be a silver lining to the Legislature’s failure last session to reach agreement on raising Vermont’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. New research published in recent months highlights the benefits of a higher minimum wage, questions the putative negative effects, and strengthens the case for Vermont to act sooner rather than later.

A recent story in the Washington Post summarized much of the new research. It cites a new study in the Quarterly Journal of Economics that challenges the conventional wisdom that going to $15 an hour will hurt the people it is designed to help by destroying low-wage jobs. That study was complemented by researchers at Berkeley, who looked at low-wage areas within states and also found no adverse effects on employment.

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Larry Mandell remembered