Public Assets Institute > Policy Areas > Family Economic Security > An Uptick in Unemployment Could Be a Good Sign

An Uptick in Unemployment Could Be a Good Sign

Vermont’s unemployment rate ticked up slightly—to 5.8 percent in December from 5.7 percent in November. In reality, joblessness was unchanged; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics did not consider the rise statistically significant. Still, the new numbers may mean things are looking up. The rate increased, in part, because more Vermonters moved into the labor force. This may be a simple result of population growth. But it might also mean that people who had stopped looking for work felt optimistic enough about their job prospects to try again.

A Program to Avoid Layoffs Sees a One-Year Spike
Work sharing spiked in 2009 as Vermont employers reduced their labor costs in response to the recession but didn’t want to lose skilled workers. Work sharing, also known as the Short-Time Compensation Program, is an alternative to layoffs. It allows workers to receive unemployment insurance as partial compensation for having their hours reduced. Businesses must meet specific requirements, and all work-share plans must be approved by the Vermont Department of Labor. But the program allows both employers and employees to avoid the cost and hardship of total unemployment.

Unions Represent a Smaller Share of Vermont Workers
The share of employed Vermonters represented by unions shrank in 2010, according to new figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor. Just 11.8 percent of Vermonters working were union members in 2010, and unions represented 13.6 percent of workers, including those who were not members but were covered by union contracts. Vermont ranked fourth in union membership among the New England states, the same as in 2009.

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