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A Lower Jobless Rate, but Little Change for Jobseekers

Vermont’s unemployment rate dropped in 2012, from 5.6 percent the year before to 5.0 percent—the fourth-lowest annual average unemployment rate in the country. But the unemployment rate didn’t come down because more people were working; over 2,000 jobless workers simply left the labor force. Average annual employment for 2012 was the same as the previous year: 338,600 people were working, which was still below the pre-recession peak of 343,100.


A continuing slide in the work force
More of the same: That’s what the January 2013 employment numbers, released today, seem to signal. While the unemployment rate dropped from 4.9 percent in December to 4.7 percent in January, there was little to celebrate. The number of employed Vermonters was down in January. And after six months of slow, steady increases, the number in the labor force dropped in January, mirroring a pattern that has occurred three times in the last four years as the overall labor force numbers trend downward.


‘Real’ unemployment: Twice as bad
When jobless workers stop seeking work, they’re no longer counted in the official unemployment rate—U-3, in statistical jargon. But another U.S. Census survey counts these discouraged workers and those working part time who would like more work. Many economists view this broader measure, U-6, as the “real” unemployment rate. New data for 2012 show Vermont’s U-6 rate was 11 percent—more than double the official U-3 rate.

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