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Vermont Unemployment: Five Months Over 7 Percent

July 2009 Jobs Brief


June marked the fifth straight month that Vermont’s unemployment rate has been above 7 percent, the longest stretch in more than a quarter century. The Vermont Department of Labor released the June numbers on July 17, and they showed the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to be 7.1 percent.


The June 2009 rate was down slightly from the previous month, but Vermont’s unemployment is up nearly 60 percent from a year ago. (At the same time the Vermont Department of Labor released preliminary figures for June, it revised the May number – 7.4 percent instead of the initial report of 7.3)

While the unemployment rate is down slightly compared to May 2009, the news is not good. Vermont lost 1,200 seasonally adjusted jobs in June and there were nearly 2,200 fewer Vermonters in the labor force. The unemployment percentage is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed by the number in the labor force, which includes both unemployed and employed (including self-employed). Since the state had fewer jobs in June and fewer Vermonters in the workforce, the drop in the number of unemployed is likely the result of fewer Vermonters looking for work.


The current recession is now in its 19th month, which makes it the worst in 70 years. “This downturn will clearly be more severe than any since the Great Depression,” economist Thomas Kavet told legislative leaders in Montpelier on Thursday. (See latest economic forecast here.) In the recession of 1981-82, Vermont’s unemployment rate stayed above 7 percent for more than a year, which could be a sign of things to come.

Despite the bleak outlook in Vermont, workers in other states are suffering more. New York and most of the other New England states have unemployment rates above 8 percent. Vermont and New Hampshire are the exceptions (Figure 3).